Synopsis: the year is 2154 and the planet Earth is in a right old state. In fact, only poor people live there because all the rich people have buggered off to Elysium – the artificial habitat floating out in space, where there’s no poverty, disease or anything bad at all, really. Of course, everyone on Earth is desperate to get to Elysium and everyone there is equally desperate to keep them out.
[Spoiler alert] After suffering a work-based accident resulting in a lethal dose of radiation (yes, really), Max (Matt Damon) decides he must get to Elysium in order to make use of one of their neato-super-duper-healing machines (remember I said there’s no disease?). Anyway, because a trip to Elysium is a tad on the pricey side, illegal and dangerous all sorts of action and catastrophes ensue (to be honest, it’s all so convoluted I’m not sure there’s much value in going into any more detail).
What can I say? I really enjoyed Blomkamp’s first film District 9 so was hopeful that Elysium would be a safe bet. While it isn’t completely terrible, it is very flawed and I can’t say I liked it all that much.
I have three main issues with his very similar, but unrelated follow-up, Elysium. 1) There are more holes in the plot than a king size Aero and 2) it just takes itself too seriously and 3) the whole ‘isn’t inequality terrible’ bit was so heavy-handed I felt like I was being repeatedly hit over the head. I also have a complaint about the shooting of some of the action sequences where they’re shot in such extreme close up and at such speed you can’t actually see what’s happening.
Sharlto Copley (the maing character, Wikus, from District 9) makes for a rather hilarious bad guy and I can only assume his character was supposed to provide some light relief. Matt Damon’s face is characteristically blank throughout and Jodie Foster looks a bit weird, and her accent was just distracting.
Final thoughts: it just goes to show that a good last film, massive budget and some big name stars don’t guarantee a good film. As for his chosen subject matter, I don’t blame Blomkamp for for wanting to talk about inequality, it’s an interesting subject. But his dystopian view of the future left me wondering “so what?” which I don’t think was his intention.
Running time: 1 hr 49 mins
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, William Fichtner