WRITTEN BY: Neill Blomkamp
DIRECTED BY: Neill Blomkamp
STARRING: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura
RATING: 3 stars
At the very least, you would have to admit that Elysium is original. The film is full of action, suspense and graphic violence, while also exploring social issues like class and race. It also holds a mirror up to society for countries like Australia where the asylum seeker issue is paramount. The parallels drawn between the science fiction world and reality are fascinating to examine. While no message is drilled into the audience - because the film is clouded with battles and explosions that provide great entertainment value - the film does raise questions worth considering for those willing to delve deeper into the moral of the story and think about how it applies to our world today.
In the year 2154, the rich live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population remains on Earth where there is pollution, disease and poverty. Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) is in charge of enforcing anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the people on Elysium. She even uses undercover mercenary Kruger (Sharlto Copley) to enforce the law in some unethical ways. But it does not stop rebels on Earth from trying to reach Elysium. Meanwhile, Max (Matt Damon) has had a troubled youth on Earth but is trying to get his life back on track. When he absorbs a lethal dose of radiation while working at a factory, Max decides the only way to save his life is to get to Elysium and use their advanced healing machine. With nothing to lose, Max agrees to take on a dangerous mission to save his life and help those left stranded on Earth.
If any other action star had been cast as Max, the film would probably not have the same impact that it does with Damon at the helm. For starters, unlike many action stars, Damon can actually act. His character has quite an emotional ride and Damon brings the right amount of sympathy. He also has good chemistry with Alice Braga who plays his childhood friend. She is also a catalyst for many of Max's actions and builds his character. Foster has been very fussy about her film choices in recent years and I assume she chose this role so she could work with writer/director Neill Blomkamp, following his success with the unique film, District 9. But she should not have bothered with the role because she was embarrassing to watch. Her accent was all over the place and there were too many close-ups on her face showing a permanent scowl. She was a caricature villain. In contrast, Copley was a more convincing villain. He was both creepy and menacing. Diego Luna also has a small role as Max's best friend and gives a solid performance, while Wagner Moura is also impressive as leader rebel, Spider.
Although I had some problems with the resolution, which I will not spoil, I still enjoyed Elysium for its originality. If you like action films with a little more substance than The Fast and The Furious, but that also makes more sense than Oblivion, then Elysium might be the film for you.