If you were offered the chance at having a better life than you do now, would you take it? well in many a sense it depends on what do you do now. If you prefer your current life you may not take it, but if it is the case that you are living quite poorly like many third world countries you would probably have the salesman’s hand off. But let’s just say that you do want a better way of life, so you say yes to the salesman’s offer. He then says it involves moving are you ok with that? Probably, then he tells you have to move into space on a giant space station, what would your answer be. Well I have always thought that I would probably go insane if I went into space, but on Elysium, it looks quite nice.
I have been looking forward to this film for a while. Why? Well because it was directed by Neill Blomkamp. The man to date has only directed one feature film, but it was Amazing, that film being District 9 and so as a result when I found out that he was making a new film, I was both pleased and excited. While the Elysium is neither a sequel nor a prequel to District 9, it is set in a similar theme and deals with similar themes.
In the distant future (141 years from now) the earth is disease ridden and overpopulated. The wealthy left the earth to live on Elysium to preserve their way of life. The people on Elysium also have access to top-notch medical equipment which can heal anything. Back on earth meanwhile the residents of the earth live in poverty. Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) grows up in an orphanage and makes a friend named Frey (Alice Braga). Max grows up with hopes of going to Elysium so he can take Frey there. When he grows up he is trying to make an honest living after some time as a convict, which is particularly hard when the police are ruthless robots. While working at a robotics factory he succumbs to radiation poisoning and is let go. He has only a few days left to live.
Meanwhile, several shuttles attempt to land refugees on Elysium, the stations defence secretary, Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster) uses sleeper agent Kruger (Sharlto Copley) to shoot them down but one manages to get through, everyone on the shuttle is apprehended though within minutes. Delacourt is brought in front of the president of Elysium who does not like that civilians were killed or the use of sleeper agents and so Delacourt is given a warning. She goes to see John Carlyle (William Fichtner), the head of the robotics firm who built Elysium and asks him to cause a system reboot to put her in charge.
Max, down in the dumps after being fired decides to do a job for notorious smuggler Spider (Wagner Moura) and has his body fused with an exoskeleton machine which enhances his abilities to that of a robot. Along with 3 other soldiers including a good friend, they attack Carlyle, to obtain pass code information to get into Elysium; instead they collect the reboot code. The group are attacked while trying to escape from a now reinstated Kruger and his henchmen. Max manages to survive and finds Frey who is trying to look after her dying daughter.
Max wakes up after getting healed from a stab wound and goes on the run from Kruger, who after finding his location takes Frey and her daughter captive. Max finds out from Spider that the information he got from Carlyle could make everyone on earth a citizen of Elysium. Max bargains with Kruger who takes all three of them to Elysium, however a scuffle on board ensues and the ship crash lands on Elysium, Kruger’s face is wrecked and Max, Frey and her daughter are apprehended.
Doctors on Elysium attempt to extract the data from Max, but Max manage to escape and looks for Frey and her daughter. Kruger receives treatment in a matter of seconds and his face is completely restored. He kills Delacourt, has an exoskeleton attached to him and hunts for Max so he can use the data to rule Elysium. Kruger’s men cause chaos on Elysium and Spider manages to sneak on board. Kruger and Max confront each other and a fight ensues with Kruger dying after Max throws him off a ledge. Spider and Max manage to get to the main hub on Elysium and load up the data which kills Max. As a result everyone on Earth becomes a citizen and medical pods are dispatched all over the world to deal with the sick including Frey’s daughter on Elysium.
Elysium’s special effects are some of the best I have seen in recent years. This is mainly from the robots who don’t look very sci-fi-ish, they look more sort of the now instead of the future. Other forms of special effects include the outside images of Elysium where you can actually see what it is like on the surface with things like houses as well as the great scale of environments such as the inside processing plants and the curvature of Elysium itself when looking at the buildings and landscape. While down on Earth, most of the landscape is realistic due to it being shot on location but the ships, while looking very industrial and dilapidated like the spaceship in District 9, look like you can go up to them and actually touch them. It is important in many respects to remember that Blomkamp used to work in Special Effects and so he knows how important the right effect is but also how to produce them.
The film’s cast are a nice pleasant mix of different personalities. Max has that redeeming feature of him of someone who is trying to do the right thing in a bad world and this is shown by him trying to get back in people’s good books after some time as a criminal. While his job like many people’s is low pay and down trodden, he just gets on with it and tries to make the best out of it knowing how important it is and how much of a rare opportunity it is. But he is also determined and this helps him greatly when he attempts to get to Elysium and is willing to go to the extremes to achieve the right outcome.
Frey has the character of someone who is very caring and so you can see how important she is to Max. Her daughter Matilda (Emma Tremblay) meanwhile sees to be like some philosopher when she tells the story of the Hippo and the Meerkat, almost like Willow Smith in I Am Legend, it is a nice part, but a bit confusing. Delacourt meanwhile is cold and calculating and has a bit of a superiority complex but there is a redeeming feature in her as someone who may actually have a caring side. Spider is a great character and has a very warm essence around him, an essence that you care for him and are pleased when he is around.
For me though, no one stood out better than Sharlto Copley. As Kruger you can tell that he is a dangerous man, a soldier, a warrior and he is willing and can do anything to achieve the outcome he wishes. but he is not a stable man, as in he is not mentally stable. Throughout the film, particularly when he got involved with Frey and her daughter, you can see more of a psychopathic idea coming out of him, but towards the beginning you wonder if he is a robot? He is brutal and harsh and likes to cause as much chaos as possible, because he thinks he can get away with it. When he goes up to Elysium, he causes as much chaos as possible and you can tell that if he were to run the station, he would probably make the civilian population his slaves.
Watching the film, it is hard to ignore the level of graphic gruesome effects that the film has. lots of occasions of blood splatter as well as body damage that just looks gruesome and horrible. But in many a sense it is required to show how things work including how the exoskeleton is attached and Kruger’s facial reconstruction. I am not for one second saying it is ok to do that kind of thing all the time, I am just stating that it gives a level of understanding about how the world of Elysium works and feels and acts as another point when looking at how bad the world has become.
While watching this film, you do wonder how it is going to turn out. On the eve of the film I was wondering if it was going to be along similar lines to District 9 as the film does have those tones about it. People having a better life than others because they are privileged and in many sense I was right as the population of earth is sort of trodden on for the benefit of those above. The people on Elysium have mansions with gardens and swimming pools all to them selves and ride in ships made by Bugatti and have the best medical care possible while those on earth are lucky enough to have running water and a roof over their head, if even that. When you see how cruel the robot police are and find out that the corporation that build them are involved with Elysium, and when air traffic in a whole are is locked down by those on Elysium. You wonder if those who run Elysium also run Earth and when people try to get on Elysium via ships, you can see their desperation to get there because of how bad Earth has become, but you also see how cruel the people of Elysium are denying people who need Medical Attention for one as well as how far and how efficiently they will go to prevent their way of life being snatched from them. And so I was beginning to think that the film would have some kind of attack scene with earth ships attacking Elysium, or if the Robots were going to be reprogrammed to attack it, but instead you get something completely different and almost unpredictable as it is not the case of whole armies rescuing the down trodden, it is the freedom fighters.
Elysium is definitely a film that should not be overlooked, it is very enjoyable on all levels as it is not just an action film. You may want to pass it off as a sci-fi action film but it also has a lot of emotion and drama to it as well including a bleak idea of the future and the selfish attitudes of those who are willing to keep others beneath them to keep hold of their own way of life.