Neill Blomkamp takes us back into science fiction and a tale with a moral dilemma with Elysium. He is best known for his previous attempt, District 9, where almost every human involved was a caricature. I really wasn’t hoping for the best with this new offering. Spoilers ahead.
You’ve got Matt Damon playing the lead and Jodie Foster as Secretary of Defense Delacourt. Great actors, but in this movie they don’t shine at all.
I can’t seem to get behind Matt Damon playing Max De Costa, a guy who apparently grew in a latin community but has no latin accent. Matt has played great characters in other films, specially action heroes. In this one, he has hardly any charisma or personality. He doesn’t seem to do anything heroic up until the very end.
Jodie Foster is supposed to be greedy, manipulative and orders a lot of civilians killed, but she hardly seems like a villain. She’s been put in place to support a government that caters to the elite and oppresses the poor, she’s doing her job.
I took more issues with the background character of President Patel (Faran Tahir), who wants a clean image for him but is part of the same system. And at some point I found the character of latin gangster Spider (Wagner Moura) much more human and likeable. He’s the people smuggler who comes up with the initial plan that goes awry. However, when he learns Max has the ability to reboot the entire system of Elysium, he decides to work up another plan to make everyone a citizen. Unlike a real people smuggler, he passes on exploiting the opportunity for his personal gain – while Max is still thinking of himself.
The allegory of the poor people being of latin race and the rich being mostly white is not lost on anyone. There’s no subtlety here. The social commentary is in big capital letters. The dialog is dull and devoid of anything worth quoting.
Matt Damon’s character gets to wear some strength-augmenting exoskeleton. It is supposed to give him some sort of edge, but it rarely seems to help him. Actually it seems more of a hindrance, but he’s been poisoned by radiation so I guess he’d be completely still without it. Jodie Foster… I’m not telling you how it goes for her, but it’s extremely anti-climatic. There’s an early appearance by Diego Luna as Max’s best friend Julio (at least they didn’t name him Chico) but you know what happens to the lead’s best friend, right?
In conclusion, I found it a forgettable film. It might be useful for future comparisons with other movies.
That will do for now.