The third movie in this year’s streak of movies that take place after humanity successfully ruined their own planet (preceeded by Oblivion and After Earth) has been released at last, and being directed by the man who brought us District 9, it’s pretty safe to say that this is the one that I was looking forward to the most. And honestly, I’m not disappointed!
Because oh wow! Neill Blomkamp‘s Elysium is just one Hell of a marvelous movie, and it is in spite of several flaws in science and occasional plot holes that I am able to state this! The stuff that’s good in Elysium is more than enough to make up for the stuff that isn’t and I just loved every minute of this gorgeously made and gorgeously violent action-fest!
Elysium takes place in the year 2154; a time where Earth has become so messed up by us humans that those with enough money and power have fled the planet to spend the rest of their lives on a massive space station orbiting the Earth, known as Elysium. All the homes are luxurious, each has a bed-like pod that can heal any injury or decease, and there are plenty of cool droids guarding the place. There’s no sickness and no poverty here, which is the precise opposite of the living conditions back on Earth, which is now the home of the poor. One of the supervisors of Elysium, Secretary Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster), quite enjoys the tradition of having great homes and great health care solely for the rich, so if anyone thinks to try and get there from Earth, she orders a psychotic undercover cyborg agent named Kruger (the great Sharlto Copley) to immediately shoot their spacecrafts down with missiles. Basically, living on Earth sucks.
Our hero is Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), a man who was born and raised in the slums of Earth. After being exposed to radiation at the factory where he works, giving him only 5 more days to live, he gets his Hispanic friend Julio (Diego Luna) to bring him to the hideout of Spider (Wagner Moura), a man who illegally ships people to Elysium to get cured from their illnesses. Max wants a ticket, but since he cannot pay with money he is instead asked to perform a mission that Spider’s had in mind for quite a while. Strapping Max into a robotic suit that’ll keep him fast and agile until his clock stops, Spider gives him the mission to find an Elysium inhabitant that regularly visits Earth, John Carlyle (William Fichtner) and steal some information from the USB dongle that people apparently wear on their ears in this future. This information, however, turns out to be more than they even hoped for once they manage to acquire it.
The data in Carlyle’s head is revealed to be the key to controlling the system of Elysium, which Caryle was ordered to use by Delacourt to make her the new president of Elysium. Growing increasingly desperate, Max decides to take this data for himself and get to the space station on his own, all whilst being chased around by madman Kruger and running into his childhood friend and love interest, a nurse named Frey (Alice Braga), whose dying daugther Max is apparently too selfish to bring with him on his trek.
Even though I found the more selfish aspects of Matt Damon’s character to make him more realistic, one can still wonder why he didn’t at least tell Frey to go to Spider and get one of those stamps you need in order to get one of the healing pods at Elysium to believe you’re a citizen and thus qualified to use it before he bailed on them. Sure, she probably would’ve gotten shot down by Kruger or arrested by droids if she tried getting her daughter up there herself, but still. (Where were all those droids in the climax, by the way?)
Another one of the film’s flaws, whilst we’re at it, is one that I’ve only been informed of by my father, a man who understands programming and codes better than I do. According to him, the way codes and data work in this film, specifically the piece of data that’s apparently all that’s needed to run Elysium’s systems, makes absoultely zero sense. I shall take his word for it, but honestly, to me this is one of those films where flaws like that inflict no damage on the movie as a whole.
I absolutely loved Elysium! As he did in District 9, Blomkamp brings us some beautifully gritty and unkempt-looking but still somewhat futuristic scenery in the scenes set on our withering home planet, but he also mixes that with some gorgeous imagery from the eponymous space station itself. The visuals of this film are arresting enough as they are, but when you splice all that gorgeous scenery together with some deliciously violent and bloody action sequences and fight scenes, you got yourself a marvel of visual spectacle!
I also responded well to the performances. Watching Matt Damon power up and get majorly pissed off was delightful, Jodie Foster was hammy but entertaining, and I even enjoyed the more unknown Hispanic cast members who portrayed some of Max’s friends from the slums. But the man who steals the whole damn show, as I swear to God he always does, is Sharlto Copley! From a slightly awkward office worker in District 9, to a goofy member of The A-Team and now a sadistic, psychotic death machine in Elysium, I am totally convinced that there is no role that this man can’t perfectly pull off.
And don’t get me started on the soundtrack by Ryan Amon, because oh my God, the music in this film is just un-smegging-believable! It complements the film’s imagery and it makes everything all the more evocative and dramatic! Several of the film’s tracks will soon have a home inside my cell phone, no questions asked.
I believe that I’ve gone on about this movie for a sufficient amount of time. What flaws the film indeed does have, if I understood my companions at the theatre correctly, can be enough to stir up a bit of frustration amongst certain viewers, but if you’re like me and can let the acting, visual beauty, sound and intensity of Elysium entice you and keep you staring at the movie screen with glee for the entirety of the film’s runtime, I urge to to get out there and see it! That is how I experienced it and that is why I am giving Elysium my highest rating! Mister Blomkamp, well done!