Elysium, from director/writer Neill Blomkamp (District 9), takes place in 2154. Earth is overpopulated, making for an impoverished, third world planet. As overcrowding takes its toll with disease and other aspects, the wealthy got together and created the space station Elysium to get away from it all.
Elysium has all the finest things that money can buy, including medical technology. It’s perfection. On Earth people struggle to survive from day to day.
We’re given an in-depth introduction to Max (Matt Damon), from when he was a child in an orphanage to his adult days, where he’s a parolee trying to go clean in this harsh, automated world. During the intro, we also meet Frey (Alice Braga). Frey is Max’s good friend, but obviously she went in a professional direction while Max went the car thief direction and got busted for it.
Now he’s clean, letting his probation time run down while working a thankless job in a police robot factory. Of all places.
But something goes horribly wrong and Max finds himself in need of the medical technology on Elysium. This leads him to hooking back up with some old “professional” peers to help him get up to the infamous space station and doing a job for them.
In the process, he encounters this ruthless, slightly imbalanced mercenary named Kruger (Sharlto Copley) that Elysium’s Secretary of Defense, Delacourt (Jodie Foster), sends after him. (There’s a really good reason for doing so, but I’ll leave that for you to discover.)
And the rest, goes from there.
To me, Elysium was a well crafted story that entertained me every step of the way. There was something new and telling at every turn of the road with little or no gaps in story telling.
The cinematography showing the different life styles between Earth and Elysium was stark and splendid, all at once. Blomkamp has proven he can show a destitute neighborhood in District 9 and he once again proves it here.
The characterizations from the actors were mostly, pretty unique, with Damon being a bit like he’s been in some previous roles, but that’s perfectly acceptable here.
The huge surprise for me was Copley. The last time I saw him was in District 9 as the milktoast employee shoved into a situation beyond his control. Here on Elysium, he is a wildly different man than the last time I saw him. It was a very refreshing look at a known actor.
This movie was pretty much what you would expect from Blomkamp… but better. He always seems to have a great story to tell wrapped up in a social issue that has caught his eye. In this case, the stark contrast between the normal “Joe” and the elite of our society.
My only gripe was that some of the action sequences were shot in up-close, shaky-cam and was a bit distracting. But this scenario constituted so little of the film, that it’s easy to glaze over.
One more refreshing aspect of this film is that I cna’t find it anywhere being offered in 3D. But of course, with no inflated movie ticket prices in an unnecessary format, I’m not sure how well the movie will do at the box office because of the diminished prices.
Overall, I think I’d give this movie a popcorn 8!