Before ‘The Beekeeper,’ Kurt Wimmer Wrote a Christian Bale-Led Sci-Fi Film


The Big Picture

  • The Beekeeper marks a return to form for director David Ayer, star Jason Statham, and screenwriter Kurt Wimmer, whose strong script gives life to the movie’s concept and action.
  • Wimmer’s work on The Beekeeper is reminiscent of his cult classic film Equilibrium, which showcases his talent for blending action and social commentary in a dystopian world.
  • Christian Bale’s performance in Equilibrium brings the main character’s inner turmoil to life, complementing the film’s concept and intense action sequences.

The Beekeeper is being hailed as a return to form for both director David Ayer and star Jason Statham, but screenwriter Kurt Wimmer should also receive a fair amount of praise. After all, it was his script that gave life to the idea, and all good movies start with a carefully crafted screenplay. But it also marks Wimmer’s strongest screenplay in a good long while. In the same vein as Ayer, whose struggles on Suicide Squad need no relitigation, and Statham — who came off a major critical and commercial disappointment with Expend4bles — Wimmer was mostly known for his work writing remakes including Total Recall, Point Break and Children of the Corn. None of these lit the world on fire, but Wimmer’s work on The Beekeeper hews close to his 2002 science fiction cult classic Equilibrium, both in terms of action and social commentary.


In an oppressive future where all forms of feeling are illegal, a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system and state.

Release Date
December 6, 2002

Kurt Wimmer

107 minutes

Kurt Wimmer

What Is ‘Equilibrium’ About?

Equilibrium is set in the aftermath of a third World War, which saw the rise of the city-state Libria. Libria’s leader, Father (Sean Pertwee), came to the conclusion that humanity’s capacity for atrocity lay in their ability to feel, and set about eradicating all emotion. Anything that could provoke emotion — books, movies, even works of art — is seized and burned. The population of Libria is placed on a drug called “Prozium” that suppresses their emotions. To enforce its rule, Libria also trains an elite group of warriors known as the Tetragrammaton Clerics, who have mastered the art of “gun kata” — utilizing the “geometric distribution of antagonists” to clear out wide swaths of enemies. One of these clerics, John Preston (Christian Bale), is forced to grapple with his long-buried emotions after he misses a dose of Prozium. Preston then embarks on a mission to bring down Libria, all the while dealing with his attraction towards “sense offender” Mary O’Brien (Emily Watson) and the suspicions of his new partner Brandt (Taye Diggs).

What makes Equilibrium work is its concept, both in terms of intent and execution. The idea of stripping mankind of emotion is explored throughout other science fiction stories, but Equilibrium is interested in exploring Preston’s inner turmoil. He’s haunted by dreams of his wife, who was executed by Libria for being a sense offender. His attraction to Mary comes with a wrinkle, as she was romantically involved with his former partner Partridge (Sean Bean), who Preston killed for a sense offense. Both Brandt and the Clerics’ leader DuPont (Angus MacFadyen) are shown to be blatant sense offenders themselves — using the power they wield as a way to absolve themselves of their hypocrisy. In fact, the opening sequence of Equilibrium sets the stage for this new world perfectly: Preston effortlessly dispatches a group of sense offenders, and discovers that they were hiding a cache of art that includes the Mona Lisa itself. Preston’s response? “Burn it.” Within five minutes, the stakes are set astronomically high — and they only begin to climb when Preston finds himself in opposition with Libria.

‘Equilibrium’ Doesn’t Work Without Christian Bale’s Performance

Christian Bale as Preston in Equilibrium, practicing gun Kata
Image via Miramax Films

That leads to the other half of Equilibrium‘s secret formula: Christian Bale’s performance. Bale is able to simultaneously convey no emotion and a wealth of it throughout the film, which fleshes Preston out as a character. At the beginning of the film, he is a cold yet efficient killer, able to dispatch anyone who stands in his way — whether it’s a random rebel or his own partner. But once he starts to feel, things change. He fidgets more, he’s unable to come up with answers whenever someone presses him with questions. At the high mark of the film, Preston discovers a treasure trove of forbidden items that includes the work of Beethoven. Once he hears it, he is overcome with emotions. While Bale has delivered plenty of standout performances before, Equilibrium is a perfect display of his talent. He’s also joined by a top-notch cast, especially Diggs — who must have left teeth marks on the set with the way he devoured this role.

You can’t talk about Equilibrium without talking about its action sequences, which are both utterly ridiculous and effortlessly cool. The idea of gun kata is just the type of nonsense a teenage boy would cook up after watching too much anime — in fact, Wimmer actually came up with the concept in his own backyard. But due to Bale’s commitment, the fight sequences transcend the ridiculousness and end up looking immensely awesome. Case in point: when Preston is cornered by other clerics after they discover he’s kept a puppy alive, he manages to dispatch them by shooting his guns in different angles — and hits every single one of his targets. Long before the Mission: Impossible or Fast and Furious films made it their trademark, Equilibrium perfected the art of over-the-top combat.

‘Equilibrium’ Became a Bonafide Cult Classic, Even Inspiring a Comic Miniseries

Upon its release, Equilibrium hit the dreaded one-two combo of being critically panned and bombing at the box office. Most of the criticism lies with how Equilibrium seemed to rip off other works of science fiction, with harsh comparisons being drawn to The Matrix. Wimmer’s response to said criticism didn’t help matters either. “Why would I make a movie for someone I wouldn’t want to hang out with? Have you ever met a critic who you wanted to party with? I haven’t,” he said in an interview.

Time ended up being on Wimmer’s side, as Equilibrium has received reappraisal as a cult classic, with praise being shown for its action sequences, premise, and cast. It even received a sequel in the form of a comic book miniseries, which explored the fallout of the film’s finale: Preston kills DuPont, who had been masquerading as Father, and let a resistance cell destroy the stockpiles of Prozium. This only spurred the Tetragrammaton to make a stronger version of Prozium and weapons to administer it, which led Preston to come out of his preferred solitude. The Equilibrium comic will likely be the only sequel fans receive, as Wimmer has said he has no interest in filming a follow-up.


‘The Beekeeper’ Rides a Wave of Positive Buzz to Strong Global Box Office Debut

The action-thriller marks director David Ayer’s first major theatrical release since 2016’s ‘Suicide Squad’.

‘The Beekeeper’ Is a Return to Kurt Wimmer’s Roots

Jason Statham as Adam Clay looking downward in The Beekeeper
Image via Amazon MGM Studios

With The Beekeeper, Wimmer returns to his roots and once again blends social commentary with hard-hitting action. This time, instead of exploring the highs and lows of emotion, he tackles a modern-day threat: cyberscams. After his friend Eloise (Phylicia Rashad) is scammed out of her money and ends up committing suicide, Statham’s titular beekeper Adam Clay goes on a methodical quest to exact vengeance upon the scammers. Like Equilibrium, The Beekeeper features plenty of over-the-top violence — particularly when Clay starts a chain reaction of explosions using honey. (Yes, really.) But it also plays to its star and director’s strengths, as Statham weaponizes his trademark scowl to intimidate many a cyber-bro and Ayer relishes in the carnage. The fact that the Beekeepers, much like the Grammaton Clerics, are a secret society of warriors who protect the peace only strengthens the link between both films. The film world could use more scripts like The Beekeeper and Equilibrium from Kurt Wimmer.

Equilibrium is available to stream on Pluto TV in the U.S.

Watch on Pluto TV


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