Posted by: greercn | August 24, 2013

Elysium

Big ideas about rulers and the underclass and high-octane action scenes fuel this dystopian tale about our miserable future, as a planet.

It’s been a good summer for hopelessness. Basically, harsh economic times seem to incubate grim films.

Matt Damon stars as Max, a worker in a Los Angeles robot factory. In childhood, he
promised to take his friend Frey (Alice Braga) to Elysium, the circular built outer-space environment to which all the rich have moved, when life on earth became tough.

Life has always been nasty and brutish for Max. A radiation accident means his only hope of survival is to get to the medical healing on Elysium.

Meanwhile, Jodie Foster is Delacourt who rules Homeland Security for Elysium. Delacourt isn’t really a people person. Her fierce Armani suits and sibilant French are movie code for strong and terrifying.

It’s all aimed squarely at the American rich, with the idea of largely Spanish-speaking members of an underclass being threatening and necessary, in equal parts.

Sharlto Copley – “District 9” and the “A Team” remake – is rather wonderful as Delacourt’s secret weapon down on Earth.

“District 9” (2009) director and writer Neill Blomkamp is given a big Hollywood budget to work with and he mingles musing on medical treatment, gated communities and the nature of poverty versus riches.

I missed the crustaceans from “District 9”. There’s something that channels “Total Recall” and “Terminator” in the robots on offer here, but I felt it needed more lobsters with tentacles.

Blomkamp’s distinctive South African viewpoint on apartheid combines with his skill in big action sequences and it all creates a rather lovely 109 minutes of viewing.

The Stratford East Picturehouse audience enjoyed it all a lot.

Of the supporting cast, the two actors who play the young Max and Frey have shining futures and Diego Luna, as Max’s best friend, will be a worldwide sex symbol and charismatic star in the years to come. He grabs your attention in each scene he is in.

Matt Damon is a real revelation as the brawny working guy with bad luck. Damon seems to be picking better and better projects, as he ages.

The music, style and look of the whole owe their existence to about 30 special effects’ studios and the British Columbia and Mexico locations, pumped up with judicious CGI.

Yes, some of “Elysium” is trite and facile. Battle lines between good and evil are rarely quite so clear.

But it’s incredibly enjoyable and pulls the viewer into its world. The word “Elysium” means that part of the afterlife reserved for gods and heroes and has as ironic a meaning here as the Parisian Champs Elysees have acquired in their luxury goods purveying.

This movie can be as deep or as shallow as you want it to be. I’ll be thinking about it for awhile, but, then, I think too much. Just enjoy the great fights, if you want a simpler experience and prefer your films to be untainted by concepts.

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Responses

  1. Good review Greer. Wasn’t better than District 9, but still fine for what it was, even if that was just a very fun, very exciting sci-fi thriller.


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