"I promise you, one day I'll take you to Elysium."
Elysium is Neill Blomkamp's sophomore sci-fi film after his critically acclaimed debut with District 9. Expectations were high considering that film was a unique experience in that it blended some great sci-fi visuals with a social commentary about the apartheid movement in South Africa. District 9 worked as a modern day parable. Sadly Elysium doesn't live up to those high standards he set in his previous movie, but I still have to admit I had a fun time with this film. I think people would've enjoyed this film a little more if they didn't know it was directed by the same person who brought us the groundbreaking District 9. Elysium is far from being a great film because it is very predictable and generic. There were no twists or surprises here, but I enjoyed the CGI and the performances from some of the cast members (sorry Jodie Foster, I can't include you here). Elysium works as a blockbuster as long as you don't think too much about the plot. Unlike in District 9, the social commentary doesn't work too well here because the characterizations were extremely over the top (Jodie Foster could've toned it down a bit). Blomkamp was trying to criticize the immigration issue and the difference in privileges between the rich and poor. However, I felt that as an action sci-fi film it kept me entertained despite the predictability so I still had a good time with Elysium.
The film takes place in 2154 where the planet has suffered from overpopulation and the wealthy have decided to live off in a space station called Elysium. The wealthy have access to a very comfortable life and state of the art equipment such as these medical capsules that heal you in a matter of seconds. Max (Matt Damon) has been dreaming of living in Elysium but his social condition doesn't allow it. He's committed several crimes in the past, but now he's decided to clean up his act and work at a local armor factory. After an incident with some droids, he runs into his childhood friend, Frey (Alice Braga), who's working as a nurse. Max isn't the only one who dreams of being able to go to Elysium. Several thousands of people have searched for a way to get a ticket (especially the sick who want to get healed in those capsules), but Officer Delacourt Rhodes (Jodie Foster) enforces the anti-immigration laws with a stern hand and will stop at nothing to ensure the safety of the wealthy class. When illegal crafts try to enter Elysium she doesn't hesitate in using force to stop them. One of her best agents is Kruger (Sharlto Copley) who happens to be psychotic as well and loves to use violence. When Max suffers an accident at work he is forced to find a way to Elysium and will stop at nothing to get there.
I enjoyed Matt Damon's lead performance here and it was good to see Copley teaming up with Blomkamp again. The face off between these two characters was probably my favorite scene in this film. Elysium isn't the best sci-fi film of the year, but it still is an enjoyable flick if you go into it with low expectations. The action is pretty fast paced and at times the slow motion action scenes look like a video game. Blomkamp is a young and talented writer/director who will probably continue having success in the genre. Again I think the main weakness of the film was its overselling of the social commentary, but the premise and the action scenes lift this film from other formulaix sci-fi action films. I guess that the wealthy habitants of Elysium would've been better off if they simply offered their employees a better healthcare system. The lovely Alice Braga should also go over her roles a little as to try not to come up with a same ending again because the closure was almost identical to I Am Legend.