Sunday, August 25, 2013


Year: 2013
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Wagner Moura, Diego Luna, William Fichtner

Plot: In the year 2154, Earth's inhabitants are divided into two classes: the wealthy who live on Elysium, a huge space station with its own habitat; and the poor who live on an overpopulated, filthy Earth. Max Da Costa, a factory worker who is mortally wounded in an accident, makes a deal with a hacker to get a ticket to Elysium in order to use their technology to save his life.

Review: I remember Neill Blomkamp's District 9 quite well. It was groundbreaking at the time, and very well made. Blomkamp's attempt to make a commentary on immigration disguised as an alien sci-fi movie was brilliant. For Elysium, Blomkamp chooses to talk about class inequality, and though this time around the result is flashier, it is lower on substance compared to D9.

Blomkamp focuses his lens on Matt Damon's character Max, as he struggles to get to Elysium, the only place where he can get the means to save himself from dying of radiation poisoning. In the process, he gets involved with his childhood friend Frey (Alice Braga), who has a dying daughter in need of the same thing Max seeks. Max at first chooses to cover his own ass, but we all know that will change in time. However, he has to contend with Elysium defense secretary Delacourt, played by Jodie Foster, and her psychotic agent Kruger, played by D9's leading man Sharlto Copley.

What's good about Elysium is Damon and a handful of action sequences on display, the best of which is Damon and his team trying to hijack information from William Fichtner's billionaire character. The visual effects and cinematography (especially the long shots) are also cool, however the lens man doesn't really know how to shoot fighting sequences properly, which is evident in the film's climax.

What's bad is the lack of substance which leads to a lack of potential. For a film named Elysium, we see so little of it here, other than long range shots of the super wealthy living in huge mansions, and a brief garden party that Delacourt attends. A bit more time spent here, perhaps with some development on what it's like being rich and worry free would have been nice. Delacourt herself isn't given much characterisation, other than being someone who likes to do her job without being reprimanded for how she does it. Her agent, Kruger is only slightly more interesting. He's as crazy as a rabid dog, and suitably scary at times, but not much else.

Thankfully, we have Damon, who turns in a strong performance as Max, the guy with big dreams who ends up becoming an unlikely hero. Wagner Moura nearly steals the show as the hacker Spider, who provides Max with the means to get to Elysium. Foster is perfectly cold as Delacourt, but as stated, the script doesn't let her go very far. Copley is great in the role of Kruger, despite the familiar mannerisms, he is fun to watch as he takes on Damon. Alice Braga and Diego Luna lend some solid support too, though the latter gets too little screen time.

In the end, Blomkamp missed out on a chance to make a great follow up to D9, though only narrowly. Elysium is entertaining, I won't argue that. But it's predictable and not as impactful as it could have been. (3.5/5) 

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