Starring: Christian Bale
, Taye Diggs, Emily Watson
, Angus MacFadyen
Heard nothing about this before release. Not a trailer, not an interview, not a word, it doesn't even have an official website. Yet it's still a certain contender for action movie of the year: it's hugely refreshing to see one that actually has a thought in its head, even if that thought was wholeheartedly looted from 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. The future here is one where emotions and everything likely to cause them - art, poetry, beauty - have been outlawed, as the cause of war and other bad things. Enforcing this, with the pharmaceutical aid of Prozium, are the clerics, led by hotshot Preston Smith (Bale). He is so cold, he felt nothing when his own wife was executed, and has no problems dispensing the same justice to his own partner. That is, until events prevent him from taking Prozium, and the whole range of human emotions come crashing down on him like a tidal wave.
Bale is perfect for the role, and is excellent at the small acting necessary; you can see things flickering behind his eyes. The look of the film, too, is great, a grey monolithic future where only renegades feel anything. Smith is out to find these resistors, but who is manipulating who? The action sequences are excellent, featuring "gun kata", stylised movements mathematically calculated to make the master of them almost impossible to shoot. The results are a welcome twist on the usual post-Matrix copies, most notably one of the coolest deaths-by-sword in a long time. The narrative is occasionally clunky and, as noted, should be largely familiar to anyone who did O-level English. But if the York notes have been checked out of the local library - most likely by writer-director Wimmer - this is a far more entertaining alternative.