Baldy Matt Damon fights the power
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley
Imagine you lived in a total shit-hole – this may be easier for some of you than others. Now what if every night you looked up into the sky and saw a place where there was no sickness or poverty? Well that place is Elysium. Everyone there is happy and beautiful, kind of like an orbiting Sweden. Earth on the other hand is more like modern day Detroit (too soon?).
Matt Damon plays Max one of the poor Earth citizens. After getting sick following a workplace accident (I spilled a pot noodle on my keyboard once but you don’t see me crying) he attempts to get to Elysium for some life saving treatment. Unfortunately the leaders on Elysium send a mentally unstable mercenary named Kruger (Sharlto Copley) to stop him getting there.
I think it’s fair to say Elysium is a film of two halves – the Earth based stuff and the Elysium section and it becomes obvious which is more interesting. Sadly the part set on the surface of our planet mainly consists of blunt political metaphors with little to no interesting events taking place.
Is the movie about the gap between the rich and the poor? Is it about socialised medicine? Is it about immigration? It tries to be all of these but never actually convinces. The message seems to be ‘if you see someone with more money than you, you have every right to take some of it.’ Neil Blomkamp’s previous movie District 9 took the issue of immigration and embedded it in an exhilarating story full of great characters. Elysium fails in this regard.
What the film does right though is the design of the world. Just like District 9, the technology shown is amazingly intricate. There’s no super shiny Jetsons style futuristic machinery. This is all grubby, used, practical equipment that makes the world feel totally real.
Throughout the film there are flashes of brilliance mainly in Copley’s unhinged villain who somehow becomes crazier as the movie goes on and the inventive action set pieces. However these just serve to remind you how turgid a lot of the film has been. These are the moments that we all wanted from a Blomkamp film, it’s just a pity they hadn’t been bolted into a better plot and script.
Elysium is an average sci-fi movie elevated by fantastic production design and bursts of memorable action. But as a story it’s too damn preachy and unfocused. Maybe if Blomkamp had kept the plot simpler and shorter it could have been something special. Instead it’s a disappointment.
What are your thoughts on Elysium? Let me know in the comments below.