Elysium – Movie Review


Elysium movie poster

“Elysium” takes place in a polluted, poverty ridden Los Angeles Set in 2154. Greedy corporate fat cats and the richest of the rich are part of a colony, a luxurious haven on an elite satellite compound fit for Kings. Apart from the obvious luxuries and fancy futuristic homes, Elysium holds the key to curing all ailments from cancer to broken bones by utilizing personal “medical bays.” Protected by the fearsome defense secretary portrayed by Jodie Foster and her team of mercenary minions lead by Kruger (“District 9” star Sharlto Copley), unauthorized citizens have no chance to enter the man made utopia.

Los Angeles is reduced to dust and informal settlements, governed by robo-cops and corrupt officials. The films anti-hero, ex-con Max (Matt Damon) works in a factory assembling the metallic robots programmed to keep all citizens in check. After Max suffers a near fatal radiation blast in an industrial accident, he reaches out to an underground revolutionary named Spider (Wagner Moura) to assist him with his life-threatening situation.


Elysium. Image courtesy of Tri Star Pictures

Max is getting weaker by the minute and time is running out, his only hope to complete the mission is to be outfitted with a set of computerized armor which includes a storage device. Spider’s human chop shop assists max in gruesome detail to “transform” him to become “Elysium’s” anti-hero. Taking a page from the 1995 sci-fi action film Johnny Mnemonic, Max is required to transfer information to a data storage device implanted in his brain.

He joins forces with the underground thugs with the intent on kidnapping Elysium’s CEO and Max’s former employer to extract confidential data. In exchange, Max receives a free ride on an illegal flight to the promised land. Start to finish, “Elysium” puts Max through the mill, from being harassed by the police to fending off attacks from the mercenaries.

The situation becomes more complicated when his journey leads him to his childhood love Frey, played by Alice Braga, a full-time nurse who is dealing with her own set of problems, desperately trying to keep her Leukemia-stricken daughter alive.

“Elysium” has more than a couple of exhilarating action scenes accompanied by fantastic imaginary landscapes. At one point max is involved in a skirmish in the dusty outskirts, slow-motion scenes fill the big screen with beautifully detailed CGI destruction scenes, with pieces of shrapnel and robot bits flying everywhere which really showcases director Neill Blomkamp’s artistry.


The dusty outskirts action scene. Image courtesy of Tri Star Pictures


South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, known for his 2009 debut with “District 9,” used a similar downbeat sci-fi story focusing on political agendas; however “Elysium” doesn’t reach audiences with the same thought provoking elements. “Elysium” is however more direct and it’s delivery hardcore to the bone in the wake of District 9”. Blomkamp’s visual imagination is on full display with dusty Los Angeles, mostly filmed in and around Mexico City. The ultimate contrast of Elysium which represents the tech Eden made to fulfill your wildest dreams is to an extent plausible and breathtaking. The film is at times to simplistic or familiar, however the script avoids the expected cliché one would expect. Max is the ultimate underdog who stands as the pillar of hope of millions and a girl he is in love with, “Elysium” is well worth the watch.

Spoiler alert:

I would have bumped up the score if it wasn’t for one or two obvious things that came to mind. Max worked in a factory producing thousands of robots, built to fend off government threats and lawbreakers. Elysium was infiltrated by a small group of people with no super robo-cops in sight? The ending of the film was very bland, with the final scene pinning Max and Kruger to duke it out. Blomkamp had all the resources to his disposal to really have a swing at the grand finally.

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