Writer/Director Neill Blomkamp’s long awaited follow-up to his surprise hit “District 9” is without a doubt a stunning and intelligent piece of science fiction that still manages to be a major let down. I feel one of the major issues here is that “Elysium” is more of an action film than “District 9” but the action feels bogged down by the social commentary. It is not easy to pull off both in the same film successfully.
“Elysium” is set in the year 2154, where Earth has become a ruined planet where nice housing and good healthcare is non-existent. Those who can afford it, live on Elysium, a man-made habitat orbiting Earth where life is paradise and each home has a device that will cure whatever sickness you have. Keeping things running smoothly on Elysium is Delacourt (Jodie Foster), who is tough-as-nails and has a distracting not-quite-French accent. With the help of a sociopath agent based on Earth named Kruger (Sharlto Copley), Delacourt does her best at keeping the people on Earth from setting foot on Elysium.
Back on Earth, factory worker Max (Matt Damon) gets a lethal dose of radiation poisoning and has just a few days left to live. With the help of his friend Julio (Diego Luna) and a local criminal named Spider (Wagner Moura), Max agrees to break into Elysium to help make it available to the population left on Earth. In order for the mission to be successful, Max is outfitted with an robotic exo-skeleton that will give him the strength to fight the robotic security and also allow him to steal and implant the security codes needed to access Elysium’s systems.
There are a bunch of great ideas on display in “Elysium” but they never seemed to be able to pull me in. Damon is good here but that stand-out performances come from Alice Braga who plays Frey, a childhood friend of Max’s that has a sick child of her own that needs help. Sharilto Copley is definitely the most entertaining character, playing a complete opposite of this role in “District 9”. This is one guy you don’t want to mess with, especially after he has his face blown off with a shotgun and then have it reconstructed in one of those medical-devices on Elysium.
I really wanted to love “Elysium” but I just didn’t. The visual effects however are near-perfect. Everything feels so real, especially during the scenes that take place on Earth. This is one truly awesome looking movie, I just wish the story could live up to the look.
By: Marc Ferman