Critics Owe Christian Bale an Apology For Trashing This Sci-Fi Dystopia 22 Years Ago

Critics Owe Christian Bale an Apology For Trashing This Sci-Fi Dystopia 22 Years Ago
Image credit: Legion-Media, Miramax Films

It deserved so much better.

In the wake of The Matrix 's fame, the science fiction genre was at an all-time high, and that is completely understandable. To this day, audiences are willing to jump on any space or time traveling mystery, no questions asked, just because the pull of the unknown is so strong.

Some movies were significantly better than others, and some were completely trashed upon release. Unfortunately, Kurt Wimmer's Equilibrium ended up being both a commercial and critical flop. However, everyone who has seen the film in the years since feels that it was judged too quickly and too harshly, and that it deserved another chance.

It's no secret that audiences' tastes often don't coincide with critics' opinions. Does 2002's Equilibrium really deserve another chance? And why did it fail so miserably upon release? Here's everything you need to know about the Fahrenheit 451-inspired sci-fi dystopia.

Is Equilibrium (2002) Bad?

With a 40% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 81% audience rating, Kurt Wimmer's Equilibrium is one of those confusing cases where you really need to give the movie a chance before judging it.

Perhaps too similar to The Matrix at the time, it was unfairly perceived as a cheap rip-off, when in fact it is a sci-fi film with a message that we need to hear more of today.

Starring Christian Bale as John Preston, a law enforcement officer who accidentally misses a dose of the drug that controls his emotions and expressions, and begins to uncover the terrifying truth of a totalitarian regime, the film was criticized for taking too much inspiration from Fahrenheit 451, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and Brave New World, making it predictable.

While this may be true, it's hard to find another movie that so masterfully balances the seriousness of the dystopian reality with an action-based portion.

The only thing that could really ruin the impression of the movie was the finale, which alluded to The Matrix far too directly and made it almost impossible to take the whole movie as an original piece.

Critics Owe Christian Bale an Apology For Trashing This Sci-Fi Dystopia 22 Years Ago - image 1

Tanked by the prejudice that many viewers and critics had against a preexisting work, Equilibrium couldn't be saved even by the power of Christian Bale's brilliant performance, and was so quickly deemed unwatchable that it barely managed to make $3 million at the box office with a budget of $20 million.

Of course, it is impossible to fix the mistakes of the past, but you can still give the movie the chance it deserves by renting or buying it on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, or Apple TV.