Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
In the distant future of 2154, Earth has been so overpopulated that the wealthy have moved off the planet to Elysium, a satellite that is reachable by shuttles in nineteen minutes.
It’s no secret that even today, the income gap between the rich and the poor keeps increasing (Face the Facts USA) and that the world’s population today is climbing up to 7.1 billion people (US census). “Elysium” takes a real-world concern and puts a theatrical spin to it. By 2154, there is no middle class. Blomkamp’s Los Angeles is a run-down city where no decent homes are left standing. On Elysium, the wealthy can live forever by using medical machines that can cure cancer in less than five minutes.
“Elysium” follows Max’s (Damon) story. As a kid, he learns about Elysium and promises himself and his friend he will get them there. Grown up, Max has a criminal record (auto-theft, resisting arrest) and works at a low-level job working with machinery. When a complication arises at work, Max gets a death sentence after being exposed to a high dosage of radiation. With only five days left to live, his only hope to survive is by getting to Elysium.
Desperate, Max will do anything to keep living and that includes a dangerous job extracting important information from a billionaire’s mind. This billionaire is the CEO of the company he worked for and it also contains information that will reboot the borders of Elysium. This information was written for Delacourt (Foster), a power-hungry, woman in charge with a better idea of how Elysium should be run. The reboot would allow for a new president, and that is what she is aiming for.
I was tempted to give it an A-. I gave it a B because there’s so much action going on that it leaves out most of the story. The rich versus poor situation isn’t explored. Yet, the film catches great cinematography of Elysium.
I think it lacked a bit of character development. We did see who Max is and what motivated Max to lead the life he had. We still don’t know much of where Jodie Foster’s character came from or what motivated her. The ending might have been satisfying for movie-goers but following the overpopulation theme I have a question (SPOILER): if everyone on Earth can now be cured, wouldn’t that improve lives and cause less people to die? Follow up, how does that solve the overpopulation issue, even if Earth citizens can now live on Elysium?
I liked how “Elysium” had a realistic view on the future. While I’m not too sure how realistic technology will get by the year 2154 (machines that can cure cancer?), “Elysium” is a good sci-fi thriller. It’s as gory as “District 9” and the camera does not shy away from exploding people. It’s violent and is rated “R” for good reason, but fans of action, post-apocalyptic worlds, and Matt Damon will not be disappointed.