“Finally! A solid scifi action worthy of summer! Okay, there may have been a couple early on, but overall it’s been a fairly dull season. Thank you Neill Blomkamp. You remember him? He gave us District 9 a couple years ago? Now he brings us Elysium, and the man has not lost his touch.
I think one thing that’s made this summer so lacking is that nothing’s really packed any real punch. There’s no weight behind the action on screen. That’s where Blompkamp excels. District 9 was a political allegory for Apartheid, inspired by his growing up in South Africa. Elysium is a look at class differences, and the whole 1% thing. He claims he doesn’t actually set out to make a statement, but it is undeniable that he draws from current events to inspire his stories. Personally, political issues wouldn’t normally interest me on screen. However, the way he seamlessly interweaves the allegory with the science fiction, it creates a truly compelling film, far superior to anything else that’s coming out of the genre today.
So what is Elysium? We’re a little over a century into the feature, and Earth’s economy has gone to hell. The rich have created their own private sanctuary called Elysium, which orbits the earth. Everyone else is left to fend for themselves on our overcrowded planet. One of the biggest points of contention between the two worlds is that every Elysium home has a magical medical device that can instantly cure any illness or condition in minutes, whereas the understaffed hospitals on terra firma can hardly make a dent. Our (not intending to be) hero, played by Matt Damon, gets accidentally irradiated at his horrible but lucky-to-have job. He’s given five days to live. With nothing to lose, he decides to try and force his way onto Elysium, by any means necessary.
On paper, it’s not the sort of thing I would have guessed Damon would be attached to, which is exactly why it was such a refreshing turn for him. Maybe I just found it overly satisfying to hear him drop a few f bombs. I’d read an article that Blompkamp had been hesitant about working with a big name Hollywood actor, but the studio pressured him into it. He found that down to earth Damon was as anti-Hollywood as you could get, and its true he did provide an essential “”everyman”” quality to the role. It’s kinda scary in a way, being able to identify with such a down and out character in a world that could very well end up being our own future.
The whole thing was an incredible run, with some fantastic action and really high suspense. But as much adrenaline as there was, it also got the gears turning and contemplating the state of things going on right now. That’s a balance few movies can accomplish, which is what makes this one truly great
Elysium – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/