The plot of Elysium is set in 2154. There are two classes of people, the rich who live in a utopian space station orbiting Earth called Elysium, and the poor who live on a polluted, overcrowded slum of a planet that only exists to manufacture the things that people in Elysium need. Like the polite but “do as I say or else” robots that keep the poor in their place.
With a budget of about $115 million, Elysium is a visual treat. It blends seamlessly the slums, filmed in Mexico, that are ruled over by futuristic robots, military aircraft and the ever visible Elysium. However, I wish the plot was as much of a treat. There is frankly nothing in the plot that hasn’t been seen before. (plot spoilers ahead)
I found that when writing this review that explaining the characters and their drives also sums up a lot of plot.
Matt Damon plays “Max Da Costa” a criminal trying to go strait, he’s poisoned at work so becomes determined to find a cure on Elysium no matter the cost. But he ends up having a change of heart due to Matilda the dying child of his first love Frey (played by Alice Braga) and frees the “slaves” instead of saving himself.
Wagner Moura plays “Spider” the leader of a resistance movement that, when not plotting to take over Elysium launches shuttles up into space full of refugees, that promptly get blown to pieces by the stations defence systems or are rounded up by robots to be deported back to Earth.
Sharlto Copley plays Kruger an Elysium agent on Earth who likes to kill a lot, disturbingly I find his performance to be the most believable.
And lastly is Jodie Foster as Delacourt, the Elysian Secretary of Defense, is an ambitious politician who wants to rule, no matter which laws she breaks or who dies.
We could delve deeper into the settings and social/political sub-context. by trying to empathise with the misery of the poor trying to get to a better place where they can all have well paying jobs, free health care and full bellies. Only to be stopped by the evil rich people of Elysium who, send their agents and robots to keep them in the slums begging for scraps. However, I found it hard to empathise with them because just like the rich citizens of Elysium the poor, are glossed over and only shown when it’s necessary for Matt Damons character to be shown living in a slum or, being herded onto a shuttle by spiders people to be launched to an almost certain death in space.
Don’t get me wrong I like this movie, overall Elysium is a good, well made movie. With above average attention to plot for a Hollywood funded project. The performances are believable and well acted as you would expect from such a cast however, the characters that they play seem to me to be recycled from other movies. For instance Spider and his resistance group remind me of the resistance group from Schwarzenegger’s Running Man (1987)
Like with most movies especially sci-fi or action it’s best not to delve too deeply into the sub plot, which is really difficult to do when, like me you are reviewing it but I know you’ll like this film as I do but just don’t expect to be looking at the next 2001: a space odyssey.