Elysium Review
By Darrin Jones / August 10

Ingredients: If you liked the effects of District 9, the plot of Johnny Mnemonic, and the action of Machete, then you will like this movie.

Due to lack of time to shoot and edit a video, here’s a quick written review. Don’t worry, I’ll be returning to video reviews as soon as I get time. But back to the movie. Elysium is the followup film from director Neil Blomkamp. Back in 2009, Blomkamp had a breakout success with his hit film, District 9. Could Elysium keep up the momentum that District 9 started? Well, yeah, it kind of does.

In the future, due to the planet’s overpopulation, rampant pollution and dwindling resources; the wealthiest of Earth’s inhabitants now live on a massive orbiting space station called 'Elysium.' Free from all sickness, Elysium is a paradise that the desperate ‘illegals’ from Earth are constantly trying to infiltrate. Unfortunately, Elysium’s ruthless director of Homeland Security, Delacourt (as played by Jodi Foster), employs whatever means necessary to keep the station secure; including the psychotic technologically enhanced Kruger (Sharlto Copley.) But when ex-convict Max (Matt Damon) gets blasted with a lethal dose of radiation from his factory job; he’ll do whatever it takes to get to Elysium to fix it. This means getting an advanced mechanical exoskeleton bolted to his body and tearing his way through Elysium’s security. But things get more complicated when Max stumbles upon a piece of information that would allow Earth’s resistance forces to finally even the odds between the citizens and illegals.

Just like Blomkamp’s previous film, Elysium does come with strong political satire. But the message doesn’t become too preachy or one-sided. Sure there are plenty of Elysium citizens that make their profit off the blood, sweat, and poor working conditions of the destitute planet-side inhabitants but the majority of the citizens are actually appalled by the brutal means Jodi Foster’s character employs to keep the station immigrant free. Really the spacefaring citizenry are more like oblivious Beverly Hills yuppies than decadent tyrants. And showing the criminal element profiting from the suffering of their own people but still keeping them more opportunistic than predatory.

The acting is good for the most part. Max stays in line with Blomkamp’s preferred ‘reluctant hero’ trope though at times it makes Max a tad unlikable. It worked better in District 9 because you had a character changing to better understand the people he was oppressing. But here, I would have liked if Max had finished his character arc sooner as that’s really the only time he goes from whining about his own impending death to actually taking a stand. On the other hand, Kruger was a terrific villain and really livened up the movie when he was on screen. Though Copley’s acting career is still very fresh, he was fantastic as portraying the subtle insanity of an Elysium agent that’s suffered a great deal of mental and physical battle trauma but still treats the Earth as his plaything.

The action and CGI were used to great effect and the film does not shy away from the brutal violence. Michael Bay might have made his career with over-the-top explosions but Blomkamp is proving himself to be the best at turning people in exploded chunks and red mist. And I do have to mention one scene in particular that looked like it was totally setting up for the cliched, “adorable child moment” that usually melts away the protagonist’s stoney heart but I was glad they gave it the Iron Man 3 / Robert Downey Jr. treatment.

Overall, it was an enjoyable watch. Definitely worth a big screen viewing. And a fine follow up to District 9. Here’s hoping that Blomkamp will continue giving us high-quality sci-fi with his unique perspective and people-imploding passion.

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