The movie poster for Elysium [IMDB Link] states that this movie is from the director of District 9 [Link to my old review of this movie] , Neill Blomkamp, and the fact that I quite liked District 9 when it was released and considered it one of those movies which successfully combined the commercial aspects of a blockbuster movie and various subtle layers of interpretation within it. While that movie dealt with racial prejudice, minority oppression in the setting of a post apartheid South Africa, it also ensured that it delivered a crisp, tight screenplay with a script that would hold its own even without these layers.
Given that Elysium also starred Sharlto Copley, who played the protagonist in District 9, my expectations from the Director-Actor duo also was reasonably high. And while Elysium did deliver quite a bit on its promise, the fact remains that for me it missed the mark by quite a bit. Maybe the issue was that the Director tried to insert too many layers into this movie and ended up making it more than quite a bit to chew upon and swallow.
The movie itself is set in a dystopian future where earth has been badly ravaged and plundered due to over population and subsequent disease. In the year 2154, two classes of humans exist, the ones who live on earth and the ones who live on Elysium, the luxurious humongous space station above earth. The residents of Elysium are obviously the ones who are super wealthy and their lifestyle clearly displays the opulence with which and for which the space station has been built. The residents of earth in the meantime have to eke out a living making the robots, machines and various other technologies that the residents of Elysium use on a daily basis.
However, what sets Elysium really apart and makes it special in the larger context is the presence of medical devices called Med-Bays and technologies which keep them free from any disease or injury. In fact so much so that these Med-Bays actually can completely restructure your cells and ensure that you are disease free to the extent of keeping your cells, tissues and blood clean all the time.
Max (Matt Damon) on earth is a former car thief and parolee trying to make a decent living by working for Armadyne Corp, the main military contractor for Elysium. An accident at the workplace exposes him to deadly radiation and he urgently needs to get to Elysium to a Med-Bay. He approaches his former employer, Spider who also smuggles illegal immigrants to the space station for help. Spider offers his help on the condition that Max performs a favor for him in return.
In the meantime, we are also introduced to Elysian Secretary of Defense, Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster in a completely wasted role) who is planning a coup to overthrow the current Elysian government and requires the assistance of her ‘off the record’ agent on earth, Kruger (Sharlto Copley, in a role which had potential but ended up being more than reasonably caricature-ish and funny).
What follows therefore is how Max, in the course of performing a favor for Spider ends up on the wrong side of Kruger and his clique of bad-ass attitude mercenaries. The rest of the movie deals with the inevitable action sequences and the ending which tries to tie up all the loose ends of the movie.
The issue I had with this movie, to repeat myself is the fact that there were way too many layers to this movie, and they were not too obvious either. The so called layers were the highlighting of the class differences, immigration issues, overpopulation and lack of health care, and believe me I had to think quite a bit after the movie to come up with this list itself. And that is the reason that I didn’t quite enjoy this movie. That and the fact that they unnecessarily had to insert a romantic angle in the story and also the fact that they wasted perfectly good acting talent in the form of Matt Damon and Sharlto Copley by giving them extremely clichéd and stereotyped characters and situations in the movie. And don’t even get me started on Jodie Foster, I guess she accepted this character and movie without really thinking too much about it. Either that or she really needed the money.
I personally would easily give this movie a miss, and would watch it only if I really liked Matt Damon or Sharlto Copley which I really did, before this movie.