Elysium delivers strongly
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp Action, drama, science fiction, thriller. 1hr 49min. R16 for violence and offensive language Now showing at Reading Porirua, The Embassy and Reading Courtenay Place
Great sci- fi has always been a metaphor for the human condition. Elysium, by District 9 director Neill Blomkamp, owes a lot to the idea that by examining a fantasy world, we can take a closer look at our own.
It’s 2154 and earth is a cesspool of overpopulation, desperation and extreme poverty.
Meanwhile, the ultra- rich are sequestered on a space station paradise called Elysium, where illness and poverty are unimaginable and every whim is catered to by robots and machines built by the struggling masses back on Earth.
After a horrific accident at an Earthbound robot factory, ex-con Max (Matt Damon) is told he has five days to live unless he can get to Elysium.
With the Minister of Defence (Jodie Foster) and her henchman ( Sharlto Copley) on his tail, and exhibiting the acute selfishness the pressures of the system demand, Max refuses to help a former flame get her sick daughter up to the station, too.
But when she’s dragged into the fight with him anyway, Max must decide if the needs of the many will outweigh his own needs.
Massively convoluted and contrived – there are some jarring coincidences – the plot is the weakest part of this sumptuous film.
Blomkamp’s eye for detail is the real star – from the exquisitely realised robot cops who are just as jerkish as any film cop ever was, to the Versace- styled healing pods, the world of Elysium has enough depth and veracity to put it alongside classics like Blade Runner and Alien.
As a more than 11⁄ hour metaphor for the One Per Cent v Occupy movement, it really works, despite the heavyhanded treatment casting the greed of the upper classes in a very cold light.
Unfortunately, Damon seems completely out of his depth next to the sci-fi elements.
There’s not even enough Jason Bourne left in him to sell much of the action, and Damon is never vulnerable enough to pull off the desperate ne’er-dowell.
Sharlto Copley, on the other hand, seems discomfortingly at ease in his role as the psychotic military attack dog.
His accent will not fail to get a laugh, but it’ll be an uncomfortable one. He’s downright despicable.
Although the emotion falls a little flat, I can’t help thinking Elysium is destined for greatness.
It’s clever, beautiful, and politically, stands firmly on the side of the angels. Also seen: Stoker (R16): An icy cold coming-of-age film meets psychological thriller by Korean maestro, Chan-wook Park.
Violent, distanced, utterly beautiful.
You’re Next (R18): The best fun you’ll ever have watching a family be brutally murdered.
A grown-up slasher film.
The Conjuring (R16): Jump scares, creepy crawlies and tortured spirits abound in this tried and true horror.
Politically correct: Matt Damon faces off against the One Per Cent in Elysium, a sci-fi which says more about modern financial practices than space shuttles.