Title: Equilibrium
Released: 2002

Fix: Dystopia with Grownups
Platform: Netflix

Netflix Summary:

In a dystopian future, a totalitarian regime maintains peace by subduing the populace with a drug, and displays of emotion are punishable by death.

FYA Summary:

After World War III all but annihilates the planet, society decides that, heyyyyy we like not going extinct, but we seem to get ourselves into trubs because of icky feelings. Solution: NO MORE FEELINGS, thanks to daily doses of the drug Prozium. But what happens when someone misses an injection, and that someone happens to be a high-ranking law enforcer tasked with eradicating artifacts from the old world that could make people FEEEEEL? Let’s find out!

Familiar Faces:

Christian Bale as John

Meet John Preston, who, upon accidentally missing a dose, starts becoming a real boy with real EMOTIONS. Your First Fake Boyfriend Christian Bale, however — y’all should already be familiar with.

Taye Diggs as Brandt

Taye Diggs’ big fight scene is one of my absolute faves in cinematic history. (The sparring match is pretty good, too, but the fight is an all-timer.) Plus, he brought much delight and confusion to FYA HQ when he started following our Twitter.

Emily Watson as Mary

Aside from philosophizing with a couple of good lines, Emily Watson doesn’t get to do much. Which really is no way to treat Rosa Hubermann.

Sean Bean as Patridge

It’s not a big spoiler, but skip ahead if you don’t want to know: Sean Bean does what Sean Bean does best

Dominic Purcell as Seamus

The once and future Heat Wave only has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-appearance, but I bring it up because… 

William Fichtner as Jurgen

… OH HAI, another dude from Prison Break!

Couch-Sharing Capability: High

As I’ve gotten older — and with current events what they are — I’ve become less enamoured with SHOOT EVERYTHING movies. Even though this is a gun movie, its Gun Kata choreography makes it way more interesting than the typical fare. Super unrealistic (more on that later), but pretty neat to watch. 

And the guy wielding the guns ain’t no slouch, neither.

Recommended Level of Inebriation: Medium

I enjoy this movie a lot, but MAN, does it ever sacrifice common sense for style. For a society that suppresses emotions, there are DEFINITELY people who feel anger — which, as Inside Out has taught us through tears, is totally an emotion.

Then there are the fight scenes, which typically involve one guy taking on a bunch of dudes in a hail of gunfire. And yet NO ONE in the goon platoons are ever good enough shots at close range because half of them are just like STAND AROUND GAWKING. It’s probably supposed to show how fast John is, but all I can see is how SLOW his enemies are.

Then again: who could really blame them for gawking? 

And for a mini drinking game: chug whenever John bulldozes his way through a crowd. WHY ARE YOU THE WORST PEDESTRIAN, JOHN?

Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Good

Now that the dystopian wave is calming down a bit, it feels safe to consume dystopia without having it shoved down your pop culture throat. Equilibrium is an action movie with just enough plot to sustain it, with lots of cool fight scenes. And you sort of get to watch The Giver without actually (and thankfully) having to watch The Giver. Although animal lovers should probs proceed with caution, since there are a few scenes that might make y’all sad and/or tense. But take solace, because this also happens.

As much as I like this movie, It’s also a bit of an anomaly to watch nowadays; it’s pretty much the opposite of current-day dystopia, i.e., it’s a sausage fest starring adult characters. (Other than Mary and the female members of John’s family — who barely get any lines — I can’t remember any other female character at all.) So I’m choosing to interpret the cause of dystopia as what happens when women are nowhere to be found.


Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.