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Equilibrium
So we have created a new arm of the law: the Grammaton Cleric, whose sole task it is to seek out and eradicate the true source of man's inhumanity to man: his ability to feel.
Father

Ultra-violent (although surprisingly bloodless) science fiction action film that either rips off or brilliantly homages every great work of dystopian fiction (particularly We). Although it's completely unoriginal, it's well-liked for being totally shiny.

Due to its similar aesthetic, Equilibrium is often accused of ripping off The Matrix, although it is completely free of wire work and Bullet Time. Stars a pre-Batman Christian Bale as John Preston, who has one of the highest personal on-screen body counts of any film character.

Also notable for having, at its climax, what is possibly the single coolest one-on-one gun battle ever filmed. At a two-foot range.

Equilibrium created and named the Gun Kata trope.


Provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The katana used in the final confrontation.
  • The Ace: John Preston is considered this amongst clerics.
  • After the End
  • Anticlimax Boss: The epic battle between Preston and Brandt... isn't.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: After depending entirely on his bodyguards previously, DuPont demonstrates in his fight scene with Preston that he's an extremely proficient Gun Kata fighter.
  • Awesome By Analysis: Gun Kata's shtick is that those trained in it can switch targets as fast as possible while avoiding the opponents shots.
  • Badass Longcoat: Preston himself, and the Clerics in general.
  • Batman Gambit: Preston stops taking Prozium and infiltrates the resistance. Just as DuPont planned.
  • Big Brother: One of the best examples out there. The head of society is called "Father".
  • Bloodless Carnage
  • Bloodstained-Glass Windows: Played with, since only one shot is fired in a church.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: In the final fight, Brandt guards DuPont even though it is clear after Preston cuts off Brandt's face that DuPont is a master at Gun Kata.
  • Boomerang Bigot: DuPont wants to destroy all sense-offenders, despite the fact that he is one himself.
  • Boring Invincible Hero: Preston. The director finds it boring when the villain "gets a few good licks in" on the hero because he has no intention of subverting audience expectations with a Bad Guy Wins ending, and thus, there's no point in making it seem like the villain has an advantage at all when the result is a foregone conclusion. He does acknowledge that not everyone likes this approach.
  • Broken Faceplate: when a mook's visor is shattered they invariably collapse and die; you'd think the visors were essential life-support gear, or something. Possibly done to make it clear without a doubt when the good guys add another body to the count and/or when a mook can be expected to stop being a problem.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: At one point, Brandt machine-guns a sense offender who is grappling with Preston without killing him too.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Where Preston literally hands his gun to Brandt for later exploitation.
  • Church Militant: Despite serving a secular state, the Grammaton Clerics use the trappings of this trope.
    • Some of the quasi-religious vibes are a bit more subtle: Though it also sort of resembles the Nazi swastika, the symbol of the Librian regime is most similar to the type of cross seen on the coat of arms of the medieval Kingdom of Jerusalem.
      • That, or it resembles the "decapitated cross" of Brave New World. This is a drugged-out dystopia, after all.
  • Clean Cut: He cuts a dude's fucking face off!
  • Computer Equals Monitor
  • Cool Gun: See here for a list.
  • Contract on the Hitman
  • Creepy Child: Preston's son plays at being one until he's certain Preston has undergone a Heel Face Turn.
  • Curiosity Causes Conversion
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Preston's fight against Brandt.
  • Death by Cameo
  • Decoy Protagonist: At first it seems like Partridge would be the hero of the story.
  • Diagonal Cut
  • Dystopia
  • Dystopian Edict: "No emotions at all!"
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Just before massacring a whole squadron of Helmet Mooks, Preston pumps two shotguns simultaneously.
  • Dramatic Irony: The culmination of the film involves Preston, an agent of the Resistance, attaining what the Tetragrammaton has been seeking since its founding -- total emotional mastery -- without Prozium. Unfortunately for them, this seems to manifest as the ability to channel volcanic anger into supreme precision ass-kicking.
  • Emotion Suppression: Everyone uses a drug called Prozium to suppress their emotions. Refusal to administer it is punishable by death.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Prozium is designed to block out emotions so that there will be no more violent conflict.
  • The Evils of Free Will
  • Faceless Goons: The Sweepers, who wear either riot gear or storm-coats, but almost always wear closed helmets.
  • First Time Feeling: Hits Preston hard, not least because, at the time, he's found and is listening to an old vinyl album of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, one of the most tremendously moving pieces of music ever produced by the human species. Even the script describes this introduction to human emotion as 'unfair'. (But it does a lot to explain his subsequent actions.)
  • Flat What: The reaction of the Nethers captain to seeing two of his men killed with their own shotguns.
  • Foreshadowing: Several instances:
    • In the beginning of the film, Brandt comments that he needs to stop by an Equilibrium center to have his dose adjusted, meaning he's either under-medicated or over-medicated.
    • John's daughter playing with her cereal near the beginning of the film foreshadows that she is no longer on Prozium, as does the fact that his son gets annoyed with her hint that he isn't on it either.
    • DuPont is teaching the Gun Kata class early on because he himself is a master practitioner.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Preston's Berettas shot flares look like crosses.
    • They look like Libria's logo. The producer himself has stated that it was mostly a wasted effect, as few viewers noticed it.
  • Good Costume Switch: Preston for the Final Battle.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The "translucent screen" variation, in the firing squad scene.
  • The Government
  • Government Drug Enforcement: Prozium is this all over.
  • Gun Kata: Created for this movie, used by others since.
  • Guns Akimbo
  • Gone Horribly Right: Father deciding to use an Unwitting Pawn to track down the resistance. It works. It works perfectly.
  • The Gunslinger
  • Heroic Bloodshed
  • Heroic BSOD: After Mary's execution.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Tetragrammaton planned to use Preston as bait for the Resistance leaders.
  • Huge Holographic Head
  • Idiot Ball. The Big Bad lets Preston, the highly trained Cleric who has killed multiple Faceless Goons and proven himself a serious threat, walk into the main headquarters without even bothering to search him for weaponry. He then tells Preston the master plan and as soon as his villainous monologue ends, Preston pulls out some firearms and fights his way to the boss's room. In a deleted scene, it would've shown earlier that the metal detectors are at the next door Preston walks through after taking the lie-detector, which raises the question of why they put the anti-gun security measure there instead of before the room they planned to spring their trap in.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Preston absolutely murders the pronunciation of Ludwig Van Beethoven.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: There is no good reason for Brandt's personal guards to carry katanas.
  • Kick the Dog: The Sweepers are shown gunning down fleeing and captured Resistance members, and dogs.
  • Knight Templar: The government of Libria
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: The Clerics
  • La Résistance
  • Late Arrival Spoiler: "Not without incident." The trailer doesn't provide enough context for it to be a real spoiler, but you'll know where it's coming in the movie, and it was clearly intended to be unexpected.
  • Licked by the Dog: Literally; several minutes after Preston cries as Beethoven, a puppy licks his face and brings out his compassion (so much so he ends up killing about eleven guys after he decides to keep it).
  • Little No: "No. Not without incident."
  • Man in White: Preston in the climax.
  • Media Watchdog: What the dystopia is all about.
  • Meaningful Echo: Near the end, DuPont echoes the Yeats poem Partridge was reading near the beginning: "You're treading on my dreams."
    • Before shooting Partridge, Preston mentions the anger and hatred felt by sense offenders. Partridge replies, "A heavy cost. I pay it gladly." When DuPont asks Preston whether killing a feeling human is worth the price, guess how Preston replies?
    • When Preston starts following Partridge's path, he repeats some of his excuses. "They miss things, sometimes..."
  • Mobstacle Course: Preston does this at least twice, one time without a real purpose besides just wanting to be alone.
  • Mondegreen: When Preston doubts the wisdom of overthrowing the government, he says "What about war, the everyday cruelties that are all gone now?" Jurgen's response is, "Replaced by the Tetragrammaton?" Many think he's saying, "Replaced by a touch of grammaton?"
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Happens to The Dragon.
  • Murder by Cremation: Mary's execution.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Preston rewatches the recording of his wife's incineration, this time being able to feel. His face becomes a mask of complete and utter horror when he sees how he had just stood then, uncaring and cold, while she had been sent to a gruesome fiery death.
    • Earlier than that, the first time he kills a man after he goes off Prozium.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers make it seem like Preston's wife was arrested recently and his motivation is pure revenge.
  • Noisy Guns
  • Offhand Backhand: Pretty much any shot Preston makes falls under this trope, since Gun Kata eliminates the need to actually aim.
  • Oh Crap: The technician administering Preston's polygraph test.
    • Lovely little twist there, since it tells Preston the technician hasn't been taking his Prozium and is therefore "one of them".
    • Also the Nethers scene:

 Mook 1: "No!"

Mook 2: "Fuck!"

  • BANG*

Mook 3: "What."

*SHICK-SHICK*

Mook 3: "Ah shit, shoot him shoot him shoot him!"

 Polygraph Operator: "How would you say would be the easiest way to take a weapon away from a Grammaton Cleric?"

Brandt: "You ask him for it."

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