Director Neill Blomkamp has come back to the big screen to deliver his follow-up to Best Picture nominee ‘District 9’ with the high budgeted sci-fi thriller ‘Elysium’. Blomkamp may have a huge undertaking after his last film being highly regarded, but ‘Elysium’ shows no sign of Blokamp slowing down.
‘Elysium’ follows Max Da Costa, played by Matt Damon, living on the now desecrated and dilapidated Los Angeles in the Year 2154 with the poor and sick while the rich and powerful inhabitants live in the space station above known as Elysium, overseen by Secretary of Defense Delacourt, portrayed with an awkward British accented Jodie Foster. Max is slowly dying of cancer and wants to head to Elysium to be cured, but undertakes a risky job by sleazy dealer Spider, played by Wagner Moura, to wear an exo suit and faces against samurai-esque Agent C.M. Kruger, played viciously by Sharlto Copley. What secrets lie with Max could save the lives of everyone on Earth, if he can succeed.
‘Elysium’, like ‘District 9’ before it, serves a an allegory for current problems in the world. As ‘District 9’ dealt with the segregation in Africa, ‘Elysium’ deals with healthcare reform and immigration with not so subtle hints about the ordeal, yet plays to the strength of these issues as they connect to the audiences quite well. Never has there been a movie so pro-immigration and pro-Latino and yet can reach out beyond that demographic. The story is intriguing and sets up a world where the audience can give a damn about the rights of the people and wonder if freedom can come. The premise helps the audience care about Max’s struggle and his anti-hero ways to help not only himself, but those around him.
The performances in the film are stellar with Sharlto Copley’s villainous Kruger stealing the spotlight. Copley is intimidating and terrifying great at what he does and will attack and kill just to have a laugh. Matt Damon’s heroic Max is the perfect foil, rising above what Kruger thinks and delivers on getting the job done, no matter what comes in his way. Sadly, the weakest person in the film is Jodie Foster doing a horrid British accent that would make even the Queen tremble. She is not intimidating or as menacing as Copley’s character, but tries to measure up with being just a stern and boring individual. On the action and visual front, it is a spectacular mix of CGI and practical that is thrilling and blends seamlessly together. It would be a huge task to tell the difference between what is CG or handmade. The action is stellar and brutal, but dives into ‘Zack Synder syndrome’ with unnecessary slow motion just for the sake of making the scenes seem “cool.”
‘Elysium’ is another fantastic work by Blomkamp and will make fans of his last film surprised at what he can do with a bigger budget, despite minor flaws that can make some deter away from it. ‘Elysium’ is rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout.