In the prologue, it is said that the earth has been ruined by pollution, and only the wealthiest of people could escape. The rich now call Elysium their home, a place where the air is healthy and to be healed of any disease – one just has to lay in a bed, much like a bed seen in most science fiction tales. Jodie Foster portrays the Secretary of Defense in that beautiful place up in the sky.
The main protagonist of the film is Max (Matt Damon). He dreams of going to Elysium, a promise he also made to his childhood sweetheart. That is not Max’s sole motivation to go to Elysium however – after a misshap at work, he becomes desperate and must go to Elysium in order to save his life, and humanity.
Neill Blomkamp jumped on the fame radar with 2009’s Oscar-nominated (unseen by me) “District 9.” He returns with a great science fiction actioner that has a great care for his characters at play. Matt Damon portrays a desperate and likable protagonist. Jodie Foster is a memorable villain, and her motivations are real, as she would do anything to protect her children from members of Earth. She isn’t as memorable, though, as a ruthless, Aussie mercenary known simply as Kruger. (And no, he does not wear a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Christmas sweater, like Freddy Krueger.) Sharlto Copley (“The A Team,” “District 9”) portrays the character well.
This film brings up interesting concepts of the health care system. If you have enough money to live on Elysium, you can essentially live forever, as long as you can get to the healing bed in time. I also thought of, while in this world people can be forced to do things at work, in this world we have rights and we could choose not to do certain things we aren’t comfortable with. Blomkamp’s vision of this earth set in 2154 is fascinating. It also makes this a solid commentary on class struggle. He envisions an Los Angeles that looks like a Third World country; decaying buildings, polluted streets, extreme unemployment rates. It would be interesting to see how Blomkamp sees what an already Third World country would like in 2154. I assume he leaves that up to our imaginations purposefully.
There’s something that lacks in the screenplay, but I can’t exactly put my finger on it. Actually, it might be because it is only 109 minutes, but it feels as if it’s about to pass two hours by the time it finishes. This is a well-done sci-fi about saving humanity. Blomkamp doesn’t shy away from gore, which makes the action pretty freaking awesome. It’s imaginative, violent, action-packed, and it’s one of the most beautifully shot films of 2013.