Elysium starts with a promising take on classism against the backdrop of expansive world building, but dumps it for a generic macho face-off and predictable underdog-turned-hero story.
In the year 2154, the very wealthy live on a man-made space station called Elysium while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth. The only man with the chance to bring equality to these worlds is Max, an ordinary guy in desperate need to get to Elysium. With his life hanging in the balance, he reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission that could save his life and the lives of millions on Earth.
In the first few minutes the movie establishes its main narrative – a different version of District 9 wherein the rich left Earth to live in healthcare utopia. But instead of expanding on the near future dystopia of the haves and have nots, the film shifts into a predictable action movie with a gaping plot hole as big as the circumference of Elysium’s wheel like structure.
The audience is given an overview of two worlds. Elysium is one big gated community of upper class citizens in space, each house equipped with a miracle machine that can cure any disease and injury.
At the opposite side is the poverty stricken overpopulated Earth with a majority of its inhabitants either diseased or permanently injured.
The film didn’t show the inner workings of Elysium, nor explain what happened to mankind. As a result, all the hype around healthcare feels inconsequential because you don’t know why its so scarce in the first place.
Did those rich bastards took all the medical technology and expertise to space? And what happened to the rest of the world outside of L.A.? No one knows.
What you will know is that ex-convict Max needs to get there by all means. Matt Damon manages to make his character relatable, even though he is one dimensional like the rest – a power hungry Secretary of Defense played by Jodie Foster, and a violent military guy played by Sharlto Copley.
The film then shifts into the predictable underdog-turned-hero plot line, complete with a love interest, a child to stir the conscience and elicit sympathy, a brutal villain and a corporate mastermind.
The physicality of the action scenes look gritty and entertaining (even though it bothered me that a guy with dying organs manage to move around and showed no signs of infection after a metal exoskeleton is literally drilled onto his body). It has some nifty high tech weaponry, but the action scenes are generic and forgettable.
Elysium has good art direction and adequate performances but it’s a disappointing follow up to District 9. It’s a moderately entertaining film that mostly panders to the socio-economic and political issues that we have today.
My Rating: 6/10