Elysium (2013)

313227Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Faran Tahir

Directed by: Neill Blomkamp

R. 97 mins

A mind-numbing blockbuster that asks the audience to find humanity in yet another manufactured spectacle. It’s 2154 and only two classes of people exist: the very wealthy and the rest. The wealthy live on Elysium, a pristine space station that contains state-of-the-art medical care, while the poor live on an overpopulated, crime-ridden Earth. Desperate to escape Earth to save his life and possibly millions on Earth, Max (Matt Damon) takes on a dangerous mission to overthrow Elysium’s Secretary of Defence (Jodie Foster) and bring him and his loved ones to safety. Constantly being tracked by a savage agent known as Kruger (Sharlto Copley), Max must outrun and outsmart both humans and machines in order to gain his freedom. Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9), I was expecting a lot more originality here. Instead, we are given halfway-provocative ideas with poorly used talent (in a film about squandered resources?) delivering unintentionally humorous lines. The special effects are stunning, to be sure, and Blomkamp’s extremely skilled at visuals but his writing leaves a lot to be desired and with such weak characterization, what could have been brilliant falls terribly short. In this decidedly Obama-Era film about the haves and have-nots, what are we to feel about Max’s character? The white saviour who holds to key to saving the lives of minorities all over the world. For a film that screams progressive, it’s another reason why I found it difficult to invest in this heavy-handed film. With too many questions left unanswered and not enough message to justify the mayhem, Elysium just can’t seem to take off – * * 

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