The first installment of this political fable is titled Elysium, and the movie is set in Los Angeles in 2154. The city itself resembles a massive slum, complete with brutal robots keeping the rabble in line. Though the wealthy and powerful live there, they harbor a lot of bad will toward the lower classes. That being said, this movie is still an important work of fiction.
Matt Damon’s steel exoskeleton
Matt Damon’s steel exoskelton in “Elysium” is a metaphor for overacting in the movie. The exoskeleton is implanted inside Max De Costa’s spine and skull to increase his strength and help him download brain contents. But what is the exoskeleton and how does it work? It’s a fascinating film, but one that needs a few more tidbits before it can be considered a hit.
In the film, wealthy people have settled in a space station to live an easy life. They’ve been granted immunity to most illnesses and diseases and have the technology to heal any wound. On earth, they’re not so lucky. An ex-con named Max DeCosta is given just five days to live, but he decides to wear a steel exoskeleton and take a dangerous mission to hack into the brain of a prominent citizen.
Elysium’s visual achievements are stunning, but it does little to explore the humanity of the survivors. It makes heavy use of current political issues, such as health care reform and immigration debate, but these issues are nothing more than set dressing. Ultimately, the film is compelling conceptually, but fails to explore these themes. The steel exoskeleton is the only part that feels authentic and real.
Blomkamp’s political fable
While Neill Blomkamp has made a handful of interesting sci-fi films in the past, “Elysium” carries heavy political themes. The director slams the audience in the face with these themes, whereas a more subtle approach might have made more sense. In this review, I’ll discuss the political fable’s strengths and weaknesses.
While it is hard to argue with the film’s premise, Blomkamp’s film does have a message that needs to be heard. It is an anti-authoritarian film, in which the rich dwell in luxurious space habitats with robotic servants, while the impoverished masses on Earth live in dreary slums and are ruled by anarcho-capitalists.
The film’s visual style and narrative are similar to those of Christopher Nolan’s films, but it lacks the latter’s thematic exploration. Blomkamp preaches while oversimplifying issues. He also oversimplifies political issues. There are no left or right-wing political lines in Elysium, as in District 9, and the latter has explicitly addressed America’s illegal immigration problem.
Despite its high expectations, Blomkamp’s first film after the acclaimed District 9 is a mixed bag. Its political fable is not an inspiring vision of the future but it does have some beautiful moments. While Elysium may not be a brave new world, it is an entertaining genre film, despite the political messages. But, while Blomkamp’s political fable has its moments, Elysium is ultimately a mixed bag.
Matt Damon’s selfish motives
While he has a strong acting ability, Matt Damon’s character in Elysium fails to earn any sympathy. Despite being a half-dead exo-skeleton, his character is still capable of obtaining sensitive information. Fortunately, he isn’t the only one in need of sympathy in this sci-fi drama. Aside from Damon, the other two leads also disappoint.
While Matt Damon’s character in Elysium has no morals, his character suffers from the consequences of his own actions. He accidentally gets irradiated on a factory job, but he has other motives as well. In order to get to Elysium, he has to steal the healthcare of the inhabitants of the city. While his motives are selfish, he does serve a larger cause. “Elysium” is reminiscent of films such as “DOA,” which is about a slow-acting poison. In addition to this, the film makes strong political statements about the USA. It was built by immigrants, and the film tries to evoke that sentiment through its characters.
Another important character in Elysium is Jodie Foster. As the head of Elysium’s homeland security, her character lacks depth. Sharlto Copley, who plays the mindless assassin, gives a strange comic book performance. Though he may have taken inspiration from Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies, Copley’s accent is an unwelcome distraction. It doesn’t add much to his character.