review(ish): Equilibrium, NCIS

Rather than write an actual review for Equilibrium, I'm going to list reasons why I like it better than The Matrix, which it has apparently been accused of ripping off. Frankly, I can't understand that at all.

  • In Matrix, bystanders get killed all over the place without anyone batting an eyelash. In Equilibrium, pretty much all deaths (and there are a lot of them) have either personal significance for the main character (John Preston, can take down anyone, just about) or are required by the story. I guess the bystanders' deaths are also required for the story, but they never really seemed to matter to anyone--characters, directors/writers, or audience members.

  • Neo was a nobody to start with, whereas Preston was a top member of the elite. So when he does the equivalent of "taking the red pill", he's turning his back on the system he's fought and killed (a lot) to perpetuate, which I find a lot more interesting and moving than a nobody becoming a somebody (a "chosen one", no less).

  • Neo was approached by Morpheus, was trained and led and had teammates. Preston had a couple of arguments with a prisoner, and a partner who was using him to advance his own career. Also, he's a father (and a good one to, given the circumstances), which gets him automatic points from me.

  • I like the look of Equilibrium better--some of the camera work is absolutely gorgeous.

  • The end sequence. The last ten minutes or so are just one long fuck yeah, and I use that term judiciously. None of this wimping out on the part of the protagonist, no lessening of bad-assery by making it seem like the protagonist is maybe possibly going to lose. Just full on, non-stop awesomeness. First time watching it with my dad, we replayed the end at least four times. Immediately, without hesitation.


Watched the first season of NCIS last week (6 episodes in one afternoon; this is one reason I haven't managed to finish writing things). So much fun! I love the way all the characters sort of just bounce off each other, although every now and then I want to slap someone; Kate and Tony can get a little mean sometimes, especially Kate. Also, it's cool to see the military being treated as, well, military, as opposed to whatever it was SGA was doing at the end (yes, I still haven't quite gotten that out of my system yet; apologies for griping). Am looking forward to watching the rest of it. Yay for Netflix!

I'd say more, but I'm trying to stop staying up so late and it's time to go to bed.
I watched the end of Wanted about 3 times the other day. *love* the end sequence waaaaay too much.

I feel like Equilibrium (and Wanted -- they really are brothers of each other) lacks plot, and it's there to be there. The cinematography is pretty good, but a bit too stark. I know that's the intention in Equilibrium, and it has plot significance, but it's just... I don't know.

I think the last time I saw Matrix in full was in 9th grade, so probably about 9 years ago. I never saw the sequels. I've watched the gunfight between Neo and Agent Smith a million times, b/c it's showing the Italian Western Format, but it's been a long time. I don't think Equilibrium was a ripoff. I just didn't like it as much as The Matrix.

I had a friend in high school who used to wear a black floor-length frock coat (ok, well, it looks more like a pirate coat had babies with a trench coat) and everyone called him Neo. I seem to remember he also liked Equilibrium something fierce.

The gunkata scene is pretty damn epic, though.

Edited at 2009-06-24 04:51 am (UTC)
Eh, it's a matter of taste. There is plot, but a lot of it's internal, and as the director says in the commentary, it's really more of a parable or fairytale than an action adventure flick. I'm not saying Equilibrium is a better film than Matrix, just that I like it more.

Wanted--is that the movie that came out last year, about the assassins?
I finally watched Equilibrium today. You're right, that ending rocked :D I loved his little Mona Lisa-like smirk. Kind of a very subtle tie-in back to the beginning, I thought.

I think my only minor problem was the quick fight scenes, that he was so much a better fighter than everyone else and that it was over within seconds. I would have liked a little more to the fight between him and his new partner. The partner barely had the sword out, then he was dead. I'm not normally a fan of fight scenes that drag, but an actual fight at least a minute or two long I felt would have felt more appropriate.

Other than that, being the angst junky that I am and that this movie was about the loss and rediscovery of emotion, it appealed a lot more to me than The Matrix. And as usual, Christian Bale did an awesome job. I liked him since Empire of the Sun (which I saw when I was like, five or six). Man, now I want to see Empire of the Sun again - it's been a while.
re: length of fight scenes, apparently a lot of them had to be shortened because they either had only enough time to do a single take or to bring down the overall length of the movie. The director said he wanted to make the ending hand-to hand/gun kata fight longer, but simply didn't have to time to choreograph and film it. The fight against Brant (the new partner), though, was supposed to be quick, to show a) how much better Preston is, and b) how shaken and distracted he'd been during their sparring match earlier on (and how overconfident Brant was in consequence).

If you still have the movie and it's a version with the director's commentary, I'd advise watching it again with that going. Some of it is a little "blah blah blah", but a lot of it is an interesting look into how exactly movies become the things we see, and the kinds of compromises directors have to make just to get something completed.