The year is 2154. Widespread over population and increased pollution has reduced planet Earth to a toxic wasteland where disease is common and resources are scarce. Hoping to preserve their way of life the world’s wealthiest citizens have abandoned Earth and created a new home on the space station Elysium – a pristine world where there is no sickness, no ageing and no poverty. To those who call it home Elysium is an unspoilt paradise, to those left behind, it is an unattainable dream. Heavily guarded, Elysium’s security rests in the hands of the overzealous Secretary of Defence Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and the station has a strict anti-immigration policy which is enforced at all costs.
Max (a shaved and heavily tattooed Matt Damon) is an ex con trying to rebuild his life in the squalid surrounding of the slums he calls home; until he is accidentally exposed to lethal amounts of radiation. Facing an agonising death on Earth Max believes his only hope for survival lies on Elysium and enlists the help of people smuggler Spider (Wagner Moura) to get him there. When the two intercept top secret plans bound for Elysium they attract the attention of a dangerous group of rebels and unleash a shocking chain of events which could dramatically change the lives of every human being on both worlds.
Directed by Neill Blomkamp and set in a grim future Elysium shines a light on current issues such as immigration, population control and the ever increasing divide between the wealthy and the poor. Matt Damon (who is no stranger to action films) is completely at ease in his role as Max, a man whose unwavering dream of a better life causes him to make some desperate decisions; including becoming a human/machine hybrid is a graphic, stomach turning scene which sees a metal exo-skeleton crudely grafted directly into his body. Jodie Foster delivers a strong performance as Delacourt, a woman whose ambition knows no bounds; although there were times when her performance seemed a little too enthusiastic and a little too fake for my liking. Sharlto Copley gives an equally strained performance as Kruger, Delacourt’s unstable ‘man on the ground’ and I was often confused by his fluctuating accent, which sounded like a mangled hybrid of the stereotypical, over the top Aussie and German. Alice Braga adds some much needed emotion to the story as Max’s childhood friend Frey, who has her own desperate reasons for reaching Elysium.
Stunning special effects create a stark contrast between the bright, clean world of Elysium and the dusty, dying Earth and there is a truly amazing, yet disturbing scene involving a grenade and a facial reconstruction that will once again have your stomach churning. It never ceases to amaze me just how much technology seems to survive in post-apocalyptic movies and Elysium is no exception. The poor may be running out of clean water, food and medicine but they seem to have access to space age weapons, comprehensive computer systems and space ships?
Despite its many faults Elysium has enough blood spattering action scenes to keep fans entertained and its original, yet simple script makes for an easy viewing experience.
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