Exalted Movie Mondays – Equilibrium

November 22, 2010
Gun-Fu, Suckas!


I doubt many of my readers need to be told about Equilibrium, but it deserves its own spotlight here. On the off chance that you haven’t heard of the movie, it’s a small film that got very little publicity back in 2002. However, it is an excellent film, and well worth the watching if you haven’t seen it, yet. Starring Christian Bale, Equilibrium has been called (fairly), “A Brave New Fahrenheit 1984.” It’s The Matrix meets Ray Bradbury, with a touch of poetry and more than a little awesome.

The basic premise of the movie is that, in the future, we have created a drug called Equilibrium, which removes all extremes of emotion. No longer are we plagued by fear, hate, or violence, but neither are we permitted love, imagination, or creativity. Of course, there are those who refuse to take this drug, and they are hunted down by the monomaniacal State. These execution squads are led by the Tetragrammaton Clerics, half priest, half ninja, all emotionless. The story follows one such cleric, as he comes to understand the truth about his order, and must make difficult decisions about his family, his faith, and his world.

The story is not terribly original, but Bale’s performance in the lead role is positively exquisite. Like Neo from the Matrix Trilogy, he seems cold, aloof, and emotionless throughout the performance, even when the climax draws him out of his shell. Unlike Neo, Preston should be emotionless. His whole life, he’s been taking a drug that chemically neuters his emotions. He has a reason to be emotionally stunted. Neo just comes off as whiny, while Preston seems like a sociopath… making him all the more terrifying to the people on the other end of his gun-fu.

(Also, this movie has gun-fu. Why aren’t you watching it yet?)

All in all, the most Exalted things about this film are the stunts, and they will provide you with all manner of fodder for your stunts in-game. The themes of stunted emotion, brutal oppression, and potential redemption could play out well in an Underworld game, with the Abyssals playing the part of Clerics. Mostly, however, you’re just going to enjoy watching it. It’s got some seriously spectacular visuals, and Taye Diggs turns in one of his best roles ever. Especially watch him for the effects of Equilibrium.



  1. You should also address the relevance to Autochthonia, particularly the Clarity mechanic.

    • Alchemicals? Huh. I’ve never seen the Grammaton and their clerics as anything but a Bureau full of Sidereals. Maybe it’s the “knowing where the bullets will be and not being there” element, and maybe it’s the precision application of absolutely controlled violence to enforce one’s will upon the world.

      Regardless, this is still the best gun-fu ever. Only the snippets of God of Gamblers II that feature the God of Guns come close.

  2. You know, I never even consider Autochthonia when I’m doing my Exalted Movie Mondays thing. I should! Thank you, Michael!

    Mr. Goodwin is correct in this instance. Equilibrium is an excellent microcosm for the Clarity mechanic Alchemicals endure, where they vascillate from human emotion to robotic… well, clarity. It’s a well-named mechanic. The society in the film could well be one of the city-nations of Autochthonia, with Cleric Preston serving as a radical Alchemical who goes against the social mores of his city rather than protecting him.

    Would that make him an apostate? Does he have gremlin syndrome? That would be a very interesting protagonist…

    • At last some love for Mr. Bale? In fairness, he’s not doing a cheesy voice here.

      It’s a really great movie, though I actually found Mr. Diggs really awful. As my friend said, “for an emotionless enforcer of Clarity, he sure is a smug little douche.”

      • “for an emotionless enforcer of Clarity, he sure is a smug little douche.”

        That’s why I love him. Sure, he breaks character, but god DAMN he seems like he’s having a good time. The delivery of the line, “HE IS THE ONE WHO IS FEELING!!” is one of my all-time favorite lines ever.

        And yes, some love for Mr. Bale. He is a good actor, and I like him. I hope I never claimed that I didn’t. I just don’t like his goddamned Batman voice.

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