“Elysium” – Review
Starring Academy Award Winners Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, the film takes place in the year 2154, where the Earth has been devastated by pollution, overcrowding, poverty, crime, and disease. The wealthy class have finally found a solution to Earth’s hardship existence by leaving it entirely and living on a luxurious space station in orbit called Elysium where all of their needs are met with optimum care and where all illnesses are curable. For in the future the wealthy few have left the rest of earth’s humanity bound to fight over the scraps they left behind to survive on the scarred planet.
The central character is Max (Damon) who as a small child along with his playmate friend named Frey use to dreamed endlessly about one day of living on Elysium, but when Max grew to adulthood he engaged in criminal activity that relegated his life to more hardship as a labor in a factory where he is constantly harassed by all forms of authority and former partners in crime.
But one day when he is accidently exposed to a lethal dose of radiation, Max realizes that his only hope for survival is to figure away to get to Elysium to use one of their Med Lab devices to cure him before dying in five days.
What Elysium has working for it is an amazing conceptual vision of the future where the director brilliantly and masterfully created a symbiotic mixture of endless poverty, arid desert, harsh looking city skylines, unique flying ships, robotic devices and the beautiful constructed Elysium all seemingly very dependent and connect to each other and yet from a humanity standpoint they are very much disconnected from one another when viewed through the life prism of the benefits gained from accumulated wealth.
I also like the fact the Director took great risk throughout the film by not being afraid to be creative at every turn in his set design and innovative use of new technology to push the story along, even to the point where Damon’s character Max uniquely looked like a mix of a man crossed with used industrial parts, computer wiring and a satellite navigation system.
While, it’s very clear watching this film that the Director was heavily influenced by previous movies such as 2001; A Space Odyssey, Mad Max and The Matrix, it rushed itself a bit too much in a few critical moments. Specifically what made the movie hiccup if you will was the lack of pacing patience to let the characters personalities develop a bit more. Instead the film felt a bit jagged from the leaping about in action scenes and dialog making the overall connection from scene to scene not to transition as well or as smoothly as it could have.
In addition, actor Sharlto Copley who was the lead in “District 9” played a ruthless and unremorseful assassin name Kruger who spoke with such a heavy rapid fire Afrikaner accent that it was at times very hard to understand what he was saying. And as much as I am huge Jodie Foster fan, she too with her strangely contrived slightly French erudite smug accent was hard to understand as well. In fact her performance in the film was cold, flat and uninspiring throughout. Not one of her best at all.
One side note to Foster’s portrayal of Secretary Dealcourt as the second in command on Elysium. She clearly reminded me and I believe it was intentional on her part to create a female personification of an actual American male politician who I think will be easily recognizable if you give it a bit of thought.
Elysium at its core is a political film where it analyzes the issues of health care and to some degree immigration fast forwarded to our own future. And just like in our current times we the viewers get to examine down the road what the possible consequences are under a cinematic microscope of what our future may hold on these matters when fairness, accessibility, power, greed, wealth, privilege and class are the variables thrown in the mix.
But with the political themes aside, Elysium is still simply a fictional movie that is very entertaining with enough innovative visual stimulation and decent story intrigue to keep you glued to your seat.
3 -1/2 Stars