Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium proves that he is the master of politically charged, moral stories. But it also signifies that Blomkamp might be a one story kind of a guy, and i his third film is about us and them, we’re going to grow mightily weary.
But for now we have the story, not of an alien apartheid, but a rich vs the rest. Set in 2159, Los Angeles is like one gigantic Latino favela, policed my droids under some kind of marshal law. This is earth, were you work, get sick and die. Up in the sky above, is Elysium. This is where the rich went as earth was spinning downwards towards death and decay. This super space-station has everything you could ever dream of. It’s earth in it’s modern heyday, manicured lawns, pools and a machine that scans your body, ridding you of cancer or any ailments whilst at the same time keeping you young.
Enter ex-con gone straight Max, played by Matt Damon. He’s got an honest job, he’s scraping by, ironically at a factory that manufactures the very droids that keep him and his fellow earth dwellers virtual prisoners.
But one day at work, Max gets a lethal dose of radiation and now needs desperately to get to Elysium. So desperate that he make a trip to see his old boss in the car jacking business. ELysium now kicks it up a notch.
Elysium works as both an action film that keeps you perched on the edge of your seat, and as a moral parable of how we should look after each other and not just ourselves. It’s visually impressive and the main actors all deliver roles that their scripted characters demand. These characters are always front and center, as Blomkamp uses effects as a back-drop and not the main event. It’s the characters and their story that Blomkamp wants us to remember.
The problem with Elysium however isn’t with the actors, the mesmerizing cinematography or the stunning special effects. It’s in the cliches and all to simple solutions that take the gloss off what could have been an exceptional piece of storytelling, reducing it to another great action film.
Rating: R16 Violence and offensive language.