“Elysium” stars Matt Damon as a man trapped on a ruined Earth while the wealthy live in luxury. It is set in 2154, when the planet has used up its natural resources and fallen into decay. The space station Elysium is built to house the rich, but they are also afforded high tech medicine which keeps them alive possibly forever. Matt Damon plays Max, an Earth inhabitant who is given only 5 days to live. He hatches a plan with his nefarious comrades to invade Elysium & possibly save his life.
This is the latest from Director Neill Blomkamp, who gained fame with 2009’s “District 9.” That was also movie about a world where one part of society lives in safety while the rest if caged off. Blomkamp grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa so he has personally witnessed the war between the Haves and the Have Nots. He is great at highlighting these differences while still making each side relatable. It’s disappointing then to see his vision diluted by what appears to be Hollywood norms. There are stylized battle scenes and the text-book bad guy. There is even an Iron Man-like contraption that makes people indestructible. Really, can we not have ONE movie this summer that doesn’t have Iron Man or a Transformer in it?
The bulk of “Elysium” still hits home, thanks to the wonderful Matt Damon, who can even make a dying pseudo-cyborg seem like a pal. Once you get beyond the perplexing storyline there is an interesting vision and a truly important message and that’s why I’m giving “Elysium” a C+. Because Blomkamp doesn’t think this movie is about the future. He thinks it’s our reality, and that WE’RE living in Elysium.