In a dystopian future, war and hate have been eliminated by the suppression of emotion. The people are drugged into compliance and “sense offenses” such as art or showing emotion are punishable by death. When one of the state’s enforcing “clerics” misses his daily dose, however, his thoughts turn to rebellion.
Christian Bale brings the same emotionless monotone he brings to every role to this one and – as usual – it works. His stoic demeanor is perfect for the role of the Cleric, just as Sean Bean is perfect in his role as “guy who dies” again. Bale carries a story which is essentially a rehash of “Logan’s Run” with some “1984” elements. The action is what really carries the film, however, particularly the introduction of the “gunkata” fighting style which – despite being completely ridiculous – looks great on film. The plot also features several twists which work despite potentially being holes in the plot – ambition, for instance, is apparently not an emotion because the political maneuverings within the ranks of the state’s enforcing ranks are palpable.
It’s becoming harder and harder for movies to truly find fresh material or new ground to cover, so most of the story here has already been done. Further complicating things, in a world without emotion, it’s difficult to create characters with any flavor. So there is a sense of monotonous sameness about this film which at times overpowers the action sequences and the moments of intrigue. But overall, it seems to work. Bale was born for this role, the action sequences add life to an otherwise dreary film and the pacing and direction bring in just the right amounts of both to keep things moving along without losing sight of the story. This isn’t a great film, but it isn’t bad. It doesn’t work because of any major innovative storytelling, but it doesn’t suffer from any major flaws in its execution. It’s a film that works as well as it does because of its balance…its equilibrium.