ELYSIUM

RATED-(R)-109-MIN-2013

 

I wanted to love Neil Blomkamp's follow-up to his fantastic debut film District 9. I thought it was good, but it could have been great. Set in the future, where earth is depleted and all the rich folk have left, now living in a sickness free Utopian space station (Elysium), high above the earth  leaving the 99% to fend for themselves back on a third world earth. The government controls the masses with intimidation and drugs, and everybody wishes they could somehow live on Elysium. From time to time, ships carrying people from earth shuttle up to Elysium, somehow eluding security, and are promptly shot down on orders from Secretary Delacourt (Jodi Foster). She is ruthless in her protection of Elysium.

Meet Max (Matt Damon), an ex con who since he was a little boy, dreamt of escaping to Elysium. He had a good friend when he was growing up: Freya (Alice Braga), but has lost contact with her over the years. Max, who has been trying to stay straight gets roughed up by some police on his way to work and reconnects with Freya at the hospital where she works as a nurse. They make plans to meet up again, and for once, things seem to be looking ok for Max. Back at his crappy job at a manufacturing plant, when a machine get stuck, his jerk supervisor has Max enter a radiated area to unjam the machine. He is exposed and now he has 5 days before he will die. If he could somehow get to Elysium, They have the machine that would cure him. 

To get to the space station, he has to agree to make a deal with the local tech criminal Spider, who knows how to get to Elysium. In exchange he agrees to download through an implant in his head, information from the owner of the company he works for brain: Carlyle (William Fincher) that will give them unprecedented access to Elysium. It turns out that Carlyle is in cahoots with Delahunt in a plan to overthrow the government of Elysium and Leave Delahunt in control of security. Delahunt also has some powerful soldiers who do her bidding to enforce her wishes down on poor Earth. The head of which is the barley human anymore, Kruger (Sharlto Copley) from (District 9), who is excellent. He is one different dude as an actor; someone who will always stand out in any film he is in. Max is outfitted with an input jack in his head and an exoskeleton suit bolted to the outside of his body to help him. With Kruger and his men in hot pursuit after Carlyle is killed while they download the information, Max much somehow reach Elysium, cure himself and upload the info which will make Elysium and it’s medical wonders available to all on earth.

It is a great concept. I think very much of Damon as an actor, but it really is a straight up action role. He does what he can with a character who is a man of few words. Foster, who I admire very much as an actress and filmmaker, doesn’t really have much to do as her character is poorly realized. Watching this film, I got the distinct feeling that a better film was left on the cutting room floor. I could be wrong, but when your asked to deliver a big budget action movie, sometimes story is sacrificed for pace, and it felt like that here.There are flasbacks to Max as a boy that hint at something larger.

Blomkamp’s story of the haves and the have nots is interesting and very fitting considering the state of the world we live in, and his heart is in the right place as you see what heads to earth at the end of the film. He comes from South Africa  and he certainly knows firsthand the issues that are dealt with in District 9, and again here on a bigger scale. The look of the film is similar: dirty, gritty, shaky style camera work, and awesome machines whether it be robots or spaceships. Some of the shots look almost like a documentary, and the look is all first rate, as his style obviously influenced from his homeland and is his own. I liked it, I just think that this could have been a great film  with a little more character development, and at least a bit more exploration of what this awesome thing above earth is all about. It is intriguing, and I wanted to know more.

I recommend you see Elysium, as it is still miles above most action fair in its scope and intentions; I just wanted more of it, and I look forward to what the talented Blomkamp comes up with next.

 

watch the trailer:http://youtu.be/oIBtePb-dGY