Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wow this movie was good. It had some things that i personally enjoy in stories: a dystopian future, an evil repressive government against which our hero fights, and some inventive asskickery.

The world was nearly destroyed by the last worldwide war. After such horrible devestation, the remnants of mankind were willing to accept any regime that would prevent war breaking out again. It was determined that man's emotions were the most fundamental cause of all conflict. So a powerful drug was developed to inhibit all emotions. At the cost of love and joy, fear and hatred have been eliminated. Of course not everyone wants to be part of this coldly perfect society, and so the powers that be must seek out and destroy those who resist.

Christian Bale plays John Preston, a sort of special agent, called a "cleric", who hunts down those guilty of "sense-crime". When the clerics find a nest of rebels, a firefight usually erupts. This is where the asskickery comes in. The clerics are trained in the "gun katas", a type of martial art involving guns. By employing this art, one can, statistically, do the most damage to multiple opponents while avoiding being hit oneself. It may sound goofy, but trust me, it's very cool.

The rebels live on the outskirts of civilization, in bombed out buildings where they hoard restricted items like books, music, paintings, even mundane expressions of feeling like colorful lampshades and non-spartan furniture.

Preston's partner is Errol, played by Sean Bean. (Batman and Boromir on the same team!) Errol has stopped taking his meds regularly. He's also started keeping some of the contraband confiscated from raids.

Honestly, if you've read 1984 or Farhenheit 451, and have ever seen an action movie, you can guess where the plot goes from here. The way the movie gets there is very entertaining and satisfying.

I liked the way the writer(s) set up the evil regime. It didn't seem intended to represent any particular party or ruler, but rather the danger inherent in government itself, especially when coupled with a populace so terrified that they will sacrifice anything for supposed safety. It uses religious ideas where necessary--"faith" in the system is the justification used when others won't fly--but treats all emotion as destructive.

There are little hints about its development sprinkled throughout the film. One such bit of exposition I loved was an explanation of how two twentieth century innovations paved the way for its particular brand of tyranny. Emotion-inhibiting drugs provided the technical means to suppress all feeling, while "hate crime" legislation opened the door to criminalizing emotion.

Immediately after watching this, I rewatched several scenes. This is one that I definitely want to own. I highly recommend it.