In the year 2154 overpopulation and pollution have ravaged the earth and rendered it virtually uninhabitable, making it necessary to build an artificial earthlike environment in space.  However, only the wealthy elite can afford to live on this high tech utopian paradise orbiting the earth. The majority masses of poor must live in earth’s shantytowns as slaves to an authoritarian society while dying of diseases and injuries that could easily be cured if they had access to the highly advanced cure-all medical system on Elysium.

This visually striking dystopian sci-fi action thriller by South African director Neill Blomkamp, is a mesmerizing mix of Mad Max (1979), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), District 9 (2009) and Total Recall (2012). So far, this year has been an unusually strong year for original science fiction projects, with surprisingly smart and visually exciting products like Oblivion, World War Z, Pacific Rim and now Elysium.

When a factory worker and ex-con Max (Matt Damon), is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation during a work related accident, he has only five days left to live.  With the help of the resistance who have found ways to get people onto the city in the sky illegally, Max agrees to let himself be used as a data courier, carrying highly secret data inside his head that can potentially grant access to Elysium’s medical technology.

The potent thought-provoking premise offers many social political analogies from our current universal health care system, corporate corruption and immigration policies to Apartheid segregation in South Africa and Nazi Germany’s Jewish ghettos and concentration camps.

The orbiting biosphere is a heavily protected, gated community if you will, who’s ruthless defense minister (Jodie Foster), will do anything to keep the lowly earthbound vermin out and keep its own citizens safe from the filth below.

If you like movies with high tech military hardware and cool futuristic vehicles and weapons, you will really be amazed by the inventive gadgets in this film. Robotic security guards, floating drone seekers, personal force fields are all used to great effect here.

With nothing to lose, Max must now race against time to save himself. Using a mixture of potent drugs and an exoskeleton surgically attached to his body, he is able to keep himself functioning temporarily under the weakening effects of the radiation. If that doesn’t kill him, stealing the sensitive data in a military style ambush and getting it through the orbiting space station’s defenses while fighting off rogue operatives, surely will.

This fast paced, non-stop thrill ride can be enjoyed on many levels with its graphic welding of sleek futuristic design and a grungy hammered together industrial look, visually enhancing the clash of two contrasting worlds.  

Elysium has a distinct multi-cultural flavor as the cast is made up of excellent actors from around the world including Diego Luna from Mexico, Alice Braga and Wagner Moura from Brazil, Sharlto Copley from South Africa and Faran Tahir with Pakistani roots who was recently seen in Star Trek (2009) and Iron Man (2008). 

But for all its sci-fi tech imagery, the story is firmly grounded with engaging human characters that we can easily relate to and the menacing music gives an added dramatic punch to the suspenseful story.  



Cassandra Schmigotzki said...

Elysium is definitely one I want to see. We watch a lot of dystopian movies.

Unknown said...

An excellent review. Looking forward to seeing it.

Kathy Crowley-Gardner said...

Nicely done review. I like your writing style and you covered lots of material of interest. The movie is definitely on my list. Thanks.