Neill Blomkamp is known for his work on District 9, a futuristic allegory substituting aliens for minorities. His next project Elysium tries to make the disenfranchisement of minorities and the poor a key part of its theme. But it fails miserably. Because, really, how disenfranchised in decently attractive middle age white guy anyway?
The trailer prepares you for a heist movie as Matt Damon becomes a cyborg to break into the elite space station Elysium. But in truth, the plot is not that simple or compelling. Damon plays Max a snarky ex-con who hustles robot cops who abuse him sending him to the local hospital. There Max reunites with his childhood friend and love interest who has returned to the area to provide health care to the poor. Earth suffers at the hands of regular doctors supplies while those on Elysium hop into a machine that recreates their bodies ridding them of disease and aging. Max has no use for Elysium until he is exposed to radiation at the robot factory he works at. Max just wants to prolong his life while a hacker wants to break into Elysium’s computer systems and make every Earthling an Elysium citizen. Meanwhile, Jodie Foster’s Delacourt is planning a coup. She has the original programmer write a new program that will allow her to control Elysium but her plans are foiled when Max gets the program instead.
The plot is highly complicated and really doesn’t make sense. There are so many plot holes and inconsistencies that nothing flows together and the movie becomes unbelievable. The surgery is done in a dirty room without anesthesia and antibiotics and Max is magically revived with cybernetic parts implanted over his shirt. And Max getting radiated? The factory machine can detect organic material in the radiation chamber but has no safety feature to make sure it’s not radiated. The biggest question of all; if life sucks so much and his existence is horrible, why does he care so much about prolonging that it?
The space station is the most interesting part of the equation. The Greek version of Elysium is the beautiful afterlife for humans that have been chosen by the gods. While this is seems appropriate, the film does not spend much time on Elysium to answer pertinent questions or really develop the allusion. For example, if no one ages on Elysium and their bodies are rebuilt why are their people Foster and William Fichtner’s age? Shouldn’t everyone be young? And if people don’t die, the population has to be controlled, but how? It is evident people are propagating on Elysium.
It’s easy to see they parallels between health care and immigration in the film but those ideas are shoved the side by the hero being played by the second most entitled sect of people: the middle aged white guy. The first? The rich white guy. Sure Max is an ex con, but in the grand scheme of life that demographic has been the least oppressed. It is difficult to portray the complex intricacies of prejudice when the hero of the disenfranchised is historically privileged.
Elysium tries too hard to make a statement and lacks a quality plot. While the movie looks good (the CG seamlessly transfers over the live action), Elysium is a contrived tale that fails to live up to the District 9 standard.
- Film Review – Elysium (2013) (jordanandeddie.wordpress.com)
- Elysium – ★★★½ (afistfulofpopcorn.com)
- Review – Elysium (mahoutofu.wordpress.com)
- Elysium (snyberg1.wordpress.com)
- ‘Elysium’ in its own orbit of hope and change (theeveningtimes.wordpress.com)
- Elysium (creodahnsays.com)