Directed by Neil Blomkamp
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley
If you’ve seen Park Avenue (a documentary on Netflix about the rich and poor) Elysium is essentially a future built from that divide. In 2154, Earth is nothing more than an overpopulated and polluted place where the poor and unfortunate live. Meanwhile the rich and powerful live in a space station that hangs around in the thermosphere. The contrast between the two societies is made very apparent. The poor live in the slums where disease, sickness and violence run rampant; their crumbling brick shacks are decaying and hospitals are just on their last straw. The rich… well they live a life full of parties and fundraisers in their huge mansions; they breathe fresh, clean air and all their sicknesses are cured with the MedBay.
But seriously, it can literally cure cancer in 15 seconds flat.
This film focuses on Matt Damon’s character, Max, who is a poor criminal who is on parole and trying to make a living by working the line in the factory that builds robots. There are flashbacks to his childhood where he dreams of going to Elysium and promises to take his childhood sweet heart Frey with him. Instead, he grew up stealing cars and now he’s just trying to scrape by. He meets up with his old childhood friend after he gets hurt. She made good and got an education and went on to become a nurse.
The hospitals here in the future are flooded with people. I feel like this depiction isn’t too far off from some hospitals in very crowded metropolitan cities. Eventually Max gets hurt at his work – and by hurt I mean he gets heavily exposed to radiation and only has 5 days to live. Sine he’s no longer of use to the company, he is kicked to the curb with his medication that will keep his organs from failing for 5 days.
At this point in the movie, Max is going to do anything to live. He needs to get to Elysium to use the MedBays. He strikes a deal with Spider (Wagner Moura), a man he used to work for, to download organic data from an Elysium citizen. By download, I mean somehow acquire information in a brain to brain transaction. Max’s target is none other than the CEO of the company he worked for, John Carlyle (William Fichtner). Spider hooks Max up with an exoskelton to keep Max’s body going and they go on a mission.
But, of course, things don’t go according to plan at all.
The main antagonists of this movie are Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and Kruger (Sharlto Copley). Delacourt is a woman that wants to make Elysium pure, only for the rich citizens and keep all others out. This is made quite clear when she shoots down two undocumented ships, killing over 40 people.
The rest that follows is a ton of action, cool special effects, a not so concealed political agenda, and an interesting enough storyline to keep you watching.
The sets you see are very similar to District 9. Neil Blomkamp really has a grasp on creating a dystopian crumbling tech world.
But we never doubted his world building. The casting, on the other hand, was a bit iffy. I mean, c’mon. Matt Damon?
When I first saw that Matt Damon was going to be playing in this movie, all I could think of was his character parody in Team America (MAAAATT DAAMOOOON!)…so ever since then, his characters have been tainted for me. Although I was pleasantly surprised with Elysium. He pulled it off. You really could see the struggle he faces trying to keep a straight life, but when he has no other choice, he brings it on the heat. You see his growth as a character about only caring for himself to caring for other people. He is very selfish in the beginning but he grows and you feel that as an audience. Damon really has acting chops and this movie makes me like him again.
Honestly, I was excited to see this movie because of Foster…I love her as an actress. She has been a favorite of mine since Silence of the Lambs and Contact. She was a cold-hearted bitch in this movie…and she played it very well. My only gripe with her was her accent. I mean what the hell was she trying to pull off? French? South African? Martian? British? Her accent was all over the place and it actually pulled you out of her character. She still has presence on the screen and she played her part as the villain well…but man that accent, come on Foster, pull it together.
I enjoyed District 9 because of Wikus. And I enjoyed Copley in The A-Team. He was a funny guy in both District 9 and A-Team…but for Elysium, he was one crazy son of a bitch. Blomkamp is an old buddy of Copley’s and this time around he cast him as Kruger, a psychotic para-military agent working for Delacourt. I mean… literally insane. You saw the crazy in his eyes. (But that could just be Copley’s default gaze.) I would be scared to be in a room with him. He also bulked up for this role. As a character he played his part fantastically. This was a man that didn’t care about what happened to you. He would kill without regret and do whatever it took to complete an assignment. His team was just as crazy. The way Kruger spoke also added to that crazy charm of his. Whenever he opened his eyes wide, you felt the insanity.
- Superb action sequences. I really enjoyed the tech.
- Sharlto Copley’s Kruger was just a treat to watch.
- The exoskeleton’s were awesome. I want one.
- Dear Hollywood…you DO NOT need shaky camera to create action and tension in a scene. Hold the damn camera still for once. Every time people were fighting, it felt like the cameras were having a seizure.
- SPOILER! Okay…I know those MedBays can cure everything, but Kruger got his head blown off by a freakin’ grenade and you’re telling me his face can be reconstructed and he comes back to life like nothing happened. Come on.
Conclusion: If you don’t focus on the political agenda of this movie and debate about it afterwards, then you have yourself a solid sci-fi movie that has cool tech, great action, a nice setting for a dystopian future, and spot-on acting. Go and watch this movie to be entertained. The script and storyline is not Oscar worthy, but that doesn’t make this movie not a fun watch. I enjoyed Elysium very much and I think that it’s a great one to check out.