I Saw A Film Today… Elysium

elysiumI like to try and keep the people who read my reviews informed. The two of you who are reading this can stop snickering now, I know that was rather funny. But just for the sake of informing those who may not know, Elysium is not just some random cool sounding name assigned to this film by some guy who skimmed a philosophy book. In ancient Greece, Elysium was a place in the afterlife reserved for mortals that the gods deemed worthy or heroes.  So, there you go. Try using that nugget of information at a cocktail party next time. You’ll be pretty ginchy, I’m sure.

In 2154 Los Angeles, the world is over-populated, over-polluted, and in decay. The poor live in the slums while in space the rich live on Elysium, an artificial environment that has med-pods that eliminate and cure any abnormality or disease, all under the stout eye of the security of defense, Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster) . Amongst the diseased vermin of humanity that troll the earth is Max (Matt Damon), a former felon working at a factory who has always dreamed of living on Elysium.

When polluted with lethal levels of radiation after an accident at the factory, Max is informed he has five days to live before dying in proper horrorshow fashion. With a desperate need to get in one of those med-pods, Max decides to pull a job hijacking his former boss’ Bugatti hovercraft (Because even in the future, the super rich still drive Bugatti’s). But when the information stored inside turns out to be far more important than anyone could believe, Max holds in his head the ability to equal the playing field of the classes.

Post viewing Neill Blomkamp’s  resplendent sophomore film, I realized just how timely it’s release is. It touches on such social and political issues that plague the evening news every night such as health care, immigration, and the blurring class system. Not only here stateside but, well, everywhere.

But this film does bring to light these issues that are on the minds of so many, and in a very entertaining way I might add. Maybe too subtly for those brain dead on the far right to catch onto, but it’s there. Regardless of what this film may try to address, it does boil down to a very well made Sci-Fi flick.

It flows fluidly and doesn’t use gore and action as a crutch, which at times I felt like it did in District 9. Although to be fair the pace of that film was quite fitting with all the exploding bits of crimson and entrails. But this time around Mr. Blomkamp is more controlled, which is both a blessing and curse in their own distinctive ways. A curse in that a little uncontrolled chaos is quite fun, especially in a film of this caliber, but a blessing in so many more beneficial ways.

The casting is pure brilliance. Matt Damon is in top form. He is seamlessly serious hero and at times sarcastic, all the while oozing the desperation that is needed here. Sharlto Copley, a District alum, is perfectly on the opposite end of the spectrum- purely villainous and purely brilliant. He is a severely underrated actor but 2013 seems to be a busy year for him thankfully.  And I’ve never been much of a Jodie Foster fan, but she sure is great here. She’s silently sinister and even though you can guess her fate early in the film, she’s a joy to watch. As is the entire cast, frankly.

Elysium is a mixture of bleak steam punk and old school science fiction, all blended gritty smooth under the supervision of master Neill Blomkamp. And though the film is set in 2154, the director has made it clear that it’s a modern commentary on the worldwide human condition.

Verdict: See it!

*Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout. 109 minutes. Directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9).

** Thanks to my friend Cody for sharing this cinematic adventure with me.

*** Poster by Maestro Midnight Marauder.

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