Starring: Matt Damon, Alice Braga, Sharlto Copley, Jodie Foster, Carley Pope, William Fichtner (Rated M – 109 min).
Earth sucks and everybody wants out is the message conveyed during this indifferent, moody, exciting futuristic thriller of up-tempo action. Matt Damon in a sublime piece of acting plays Max, a factory worker with a bleak past simply trying to make ends meet on a ravaged dystopian society on earth in the year 2154. Overpopulated and post apocalyptic, our blue planet is no longer a healthy place to live.
A revolving paradise has been constructed thousands of miles overhead, a glassed in space station with flowing waterways and manicured lawns is Elysium. Living a clean life of luxury compared to the decay below, residents have money, lots of it. Government immigration officials stop at nothing to prevent unapproved people deporting from earth to enter Elysium illegally. Unlucky Max has an unfortunate critical accident, but is given a lifeline by renegades if he agrees to embark on a dangerous mission. Transformed into a half-man half-machine bringing him back to life, Max is uploaded with unauthorised cerebral data and fitted with a spine clutching metal suit. The effects throughout are very real, so beware, this particular surgical scene is horrific.
Leading a charge to infiltrate Elysium, Max also promises best friend Freya (Alice Braga) to take her terminal daughter to be treated on arrival by their curable machines. Disruption is never far away as a brutal sleeper agent is activated by a nervous government secretary (Jodie Foster) to stop any potential raid. South African actor Sharlto Copely is a nasty piece of work as ruthless Agent Kruger, the samurai sword wielding apologetic villain who enjoys his hurtful job way too much.
For an action movie there are a few flat periods of preaching human spirit and living in harmony. Not quite enough time is spent on Elysium to gain a true understanding of the utopian new hope. You really only see it on the outside in glimpses. Very disappointing that Jodie Foster is underused, cut short when it was an opportunity for her to let loose in a very uncharacteristic role. The dusty atmosphere of filthy ‘earth’ locations and a unique take on survival are components to an interesting take on the science fiction genre.
Shane A. Bassett