Universal healthcare, anyone? How about the immigration debate? Hello moviegoers, today I’ll be taking a look at “Elysium”. The film stars Matt Damon as Max a reformed car thief who is though and resilient in the face of staggering odds in, this, director Neil Blomkamp’s first film since his directorial debut and surprise hit 2009’s “District 9”.
Blomkamp teases us with a sci-fi post-apocalyptic film set in the dilapidated landscape of Los Angeles, in the year of our lord 2154; where poverty, sickness and other social maladies that now ravage communities on earth are in stark contrast to the manicured estates and disease free space sanctuary that is Elysium.
“Elysium” (2 ½ sweet potatoes out of 4) Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Diego Luna, Alice Braga, William Fichtner; Director: Neil Blomkamp; Genre: Sci-fi; Rated R; runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes; Opens Friday, August 9th
A run-in with local enforcement, which is represented by heavy-handed, humorless robots, leads to a trip to the hospital where Max is briefly reunited with childhood friend Frey (played by Alice Braga) who works as a nurse. At the hospital, the bleak situation of the locals is exacerbated with overcrowding and staff shortages.
Max lights up when he sees Frey, and is quick to tell her when she asks that he does not steal cars anymore. He wants to talk but she doesn’t have time because she it needed elsewhere in the hospital. Frey tells Max that her shift ends at eight o’clock on Wednesday. This meeting never happening helps to betray the considerable potential of the film.
Elysium is a place that a young Max (Maxwell Perry Cotton) and Frey (Valentina Giron) would one day get to visit, together.
When a work-place accident leaves Max with only five days to live, he finds himself in Spider’s den (Wagner Moura) in search of a ticket to Elysium because he can be cured there. Is that all that is required to get to Elysium? Hardly. Wagner Moura as Spider gives the most complete performance of the movie as a local kingpin and human trafficker.
Now, a ticket on one of Spiders’ ships gives you a chance to get shot down by the Defense Secretary Delacourt who is (played to one rigid note by Jodie Foster). And, if you are lucky enough to make it to the Surface of Elysium – well then.
For this lottery ticket, Max takes on a mission which requires him to have an exoskeleton fussed to his body turning him into an ass-kicking computer, if you will; and he has to steel sensitive information from a non-sympathetic CEO John Carlyle (played by William Fichtner).
Unbeknown to Max, Carlyle is working covertly with Delacourt and when things don’t go as planned she reenlists her henchman on the ground, Kruger (Played by “District 9’s” Sharlto Copley) to secure the sensitive data. Sharlto is okay as the bad guy, but this element of the film is ill-conceived and is ultimately a distraction.
As the film nears its conclusion, it is realized that Frey has a terminally sick daughter Matilda (Emma Tremblay), who soon wins Max’s heart and makes his personal desperation no longer his own. So when it comes to the question of universal healthcare or the immigration debate, it is not a matter of one or the other; for Max it is all or nothing at all.
Gosh, this one left me wanting more. Elysium is a good movie and I liked it, but it could have been a great one. With a set up that suggested the further exploration of a number of the social issues of the day, “Elysium” does not go far enough and it could have through developing Max’s and Frey’s relationship.
I give “Elysium” two and a half sweet potatoes out of four. This has been your resident moviegoer and I will see you after the movies at moviegoersview.com.
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