Heaven Can Wait – A review of Elysium
Production Company: Sony Pictures
Run Time: 109 minutes
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley
Summary: Setting aside the allegory of a futuristic tale of the haves and have-nots, this is a compelling science fiction tale set 150 years in Earth’s future and it well deserves to be seen.
Niell Blomkamp has done it again.
In his latest directorial outing following on the heels of the hugely successful low budget science fiction sleeper from 2009, District 9, he has once again created a credible reality with compelling characters and a plot ripped straight from a pulp serial with top notch acting and special effects to match.
Matt Damon stars in this thriller as Max, a man who grows up in this dystopian future where, as a denizen of downtrodden Earth, he is destined to live and die as a forgotten remnant of the human inhabitation of our ruined and ecologically ravaged cradle of humanity.
Humanity, however, does have a future – or at least those that have money have one. Orbiting high in the sky above the planet is an enormous space station known as Elysium. There, the wealthy live in a paradise of human creation on a spinning wheel very visually reminiscent of the orbital habitat from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
With the space station, though, comes the bureaucracy that always seems to pervade these types of tales. Jodie Foster plays a merciless taskmaster on the station who routinely sentences refugees fleeing from Earth to the floating paradise to a swift and chilling death, callously ordering their ships to be blown from the skies as they get too close.
Max is given a chance, though, to help all humanity. After he is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation, he is given five days to live. His only chance for survival is to reach Elysium and the life giving medical treatment facilities that are reserved only for those people of means who can make it to the heavens.
He sacrifices part of his own humanity to make the journey. He is fitted with an exoskeleton that will allow him to fight the machines that guard the space station and also the dregs of humanity on Earth in the effort to prevent him from achieving his intended goal.
What makes this tale work so well is the humanity incorporated throughout. This isn’t simply an exploitation of what can be done visually on the screen. There is a neatly woven story here that is brought to life by top notch acting and a fantastic writer/director.
It is interesting to note that the film seeks to politicize the disparate gap between the haves and have-nots on our own planet. While those that have money can live in Utopia, those that have nothing are condemned to live on a planet with an uncertain future almost certainly destined for a less than ideal ending.
Humorously, though, I’m amused since those that spearheaded and appear in the movie are among those very folks who the film attempts to demonize. After all, aren’t Hollywood’s elite among the richest on the planet and certainly the haves among the have-nots?
If they aren’t careful, Hollywood’s elite just might end up biting off the hand that feeds them. I give Elysium 4 out of 5 stars.