It seems fashionable in recent blockbuster genres for our planet to become the last place humans would want to inhabit. Elysium is the ultimate in promoting the off-Earth ideal where wealthy individuals can lead long, healthy lives in the pristine conditions of a manmade space station.
Max (Matt Damon, The Bourne Identity) is the hero of the film, a stereotypical orphan with nothing to lose except his own godforsaken life, living amid the crime and poverty of L.A. 150 years from now. A creation of District 9’s director Neill Blomkamp, Max is a regular guy who, like the rest of the population, lusts after life on Elysium. After a series of unfortunate events, Max’s wish to leave Earth becomes personal and desperation replaces desire.
If you can forgive a film for a few major cases of pigeonholing, Elysium has all the creative potential of District 9’s alien invasion. Max is apparently the only white man left on earth. The rest of the population – at least in his neighbourhood – look to be of Mexican descent, while the vast majority of those on Elysium are, you guessed it, white!
Fans of Blomkamp’s first film will be delighted to see the return of Sharlto Copley, this time as a hardcore hitman under the command of Elysium’s Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs). Copley’s dulcet South African accent creates plenty of laughs and he does a good job toughening up as Delacourt’s henchman.
The extreme divide Blomkamp has created in Elysium is thought-provoking and not too far from current examples of wealth situated amid a sea of poverty in areas such as Johannesburg and Rio. The sci-fi element, which has totally removed the affluent to their own asylum (sorry, Elysium), is merely a reflection of the change in times. Today we have six astronauts living and working on a space station orbiting 250 miles above the surface of the Earth – in 150 years, who knows!
District 9 was always going to be a hard film to follow, but solid casting and some great special effects have resulted in a film that shouldn’t be compared to Blomkamp’s first film at all, but considered in its own right.
For action and originality, Elysium is worth a watch.
Elysium is released nationwide on 21st August 2013.
Watch the trailer for Elysium here: