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5 Dystopian Films to Watch Now That You Now Live in One

Lock yourself indoors and pretend these films are strictly fiction

Lock yourself indoors and pretend these films are strictly fiction

With a deplorable excuse of a federal administration lying through their teeth about having the situation under control, it’s starting to feel like the world is descending into the plot of an apocalyptic or dystopian film. Fortunately, there are quite a few films to compare with the current state of the world.

1. Equilibrium (2002)

“Equilibrium” is a brilliant 2002 futuristic thriller starring Christian Bale in a fascist police state mandates daily medication that eliminates all feelings. “Sense offenders” that refuse their medication are rounded up and disposed of in ovens, and books and other forms of media that might inspire emotion are burned. Subtlety is not this film’s forte, but that’s to be expected when it also boasts brilliantly-staged action sequences where Christian Bale uses his guns as all-purpose weapons. It’s “The Giver” meets “1984” meets “The Matrix.” The fighting style is referred to as “gun-kata,” and its efficiency and balance reflects the tightness of the film’s storytelling.

2. Snowpiercer (2013)

Did you like Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning “Parasite” from 2019? If so, you might enjoy one of his previous masterpieces. In “Snowpiercer,” Earth is in the midst of a new ice age, leaving humanity to survive within the confines of a train that runs on a perpetual track. The train spins its wheels around the icy remains of the former metropolitan homes of the billionaires responsible for the crisis in the first place. An extreme contrast in quality of life lingers on the train, which continues to spin its wheels until a rebellion begins. “Snowpiercer” is another brilliant deconstruction of the class divide and inequity that reminds us that we all live in a capitalist country.

3. Looper (2012)

From Rian Johnson, director of the best Star Wars film, comes an exciting thriller in which time travel is possible, but outlawed. Gangsters send victims back in time to be killed by a hit man until he becomes the target. Unlike most time travel films, this one accepts and plays around with many of the potential paradoxes of time travel and stages scenes only possible in films with time travel. It takes great advantage of the strengths of its cast, as all Rian Johnson films do, and is a whole lot of fun, as all Rian Johnson films are. All of them.

4. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

OK, this one takes place at the time that it was made, and isn’t particularly dystopian, but to be fair, it’s about a group of rich vigilantes, who already killed the entire Obama administration in the previous “Kingsman” film, “The Secret Service.” Thus, they are indirectly responsible for the Trump presidency, which is a major part of the plot of this film. Now investigating a foreign cartel with a monopoly on drug trade, they discover the cartel’s plan to poison cannabis users and hold the planet hostage so that drugs will be legalized. In the real world, this would just mean that Big Pharma takes a huge share of the market and kills their business. But in the Kingsman world, it means a healthy helping of flashy action helped out by an Elton John appearance.

5. Planet of the Apes (1968)

Before the Andy Serkis trilogy and the underwhelming Tim Burton effort was the original 1968 classic, “Planet of the Apes.” It watches more as an extended “Twilight Zone” episode than a futuristic adventure film, and it is superbly well-crafted, with intricate and detailed sets. The chemistry between the humans and the apes is a wonderful tone balancing act that offers plenty of ideas on race relations. And its brilliant twist ending goes down as an all-time classic.

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