Equilibrium is a difficult movie to critique as it both fails and succeeds. The failure is clear enough as a wannabe Matrix complete with Christian Bale encased in black clothes and a black leather trench coat. The failure is in part because we don’t really need another retelling of Orwell’s 1984 – at least not one which seemingly is without any inspiration of its own. The failure is in martial arts scenes which while internally consistent with the logic of the movie just don’t flow the way they should on screen.
On the surface of it the premise of the movie is as promising as most dystopian themes. After the third world war someone comes to the conclusion that emotions are the problem and if we simply make them illegal and everything which could incite emotion illegal and drug the populace then everything will be just peachy keen. Of course no true dystopia can exist without a resistance committed to freeing mankind from the shackles of their emotionless existence. From the standpoint of the viewer none of this creates any particular suspense or empathy as the story proceeds in an absolutely predictable manner from start to finish.
This may cause you to wonder where it succeeds. Equilibrium is a visually rich movie. Someone did spend a lot of time figuring out exactly how they should present the things. Lighting, blocking, costuming, makeup are all very minimal and sparse but internally consistent. It is a shame that frequently some of the truly superb work done in SF and horror movies in the realm of foley, FX and sound doesn't get recognized because the movies themselves aren't very good stories.
There is nothing inherently bad in Equilibrium. It is watchable and definitely should be added as a second DVD choice on a rainy day or if it ever comes up on SPACE or the Sci-Fi channel but beyond that there isn’t any reason to go looking for it. The Matrix is a better dystopia and V for Vendetta is a better 1984 substitute.