REVIEW: Elysium

"Activate Kruger."


In the year 2154, the rich and powerful live on Elysium, a space station utopia free of poverty, disease and war.  The rest of us are rotting away on Earth, which has become as cesspool.  When Max, and ex-con trying to live straight, has an accident at work that gives him days to live, he takes one last job in a desperate attempt to reach Elysium and cure himself.  

I love an epic Science Fiction flick with a broad scope, intelligence and killer visuals.  We get one every year or two, and as much as I enjoy them, I always find myself comparing them to MINORITY REPORT, which remains one of my cult favorites.  Thought not as smart, or ground breaking, ELYSIUM is everything you could ask for in a summer action flick.  The social commentaries are no more “in your face” here than they were in Neill Blomkamp’s DISTRICT 9, but the budget, intensity, action and stakes are clearly raised this time around, and the result is two hours of fun.

Matt Damon solidified his presence in the badass hall of fame with the role of Jason Bourne.  He brought us a cool action hero at a time when the genre was lacking.  I’d have loved to see him further his action range, but he didn’t.  That said, he hasn’t lost a step when it comes to throwing down.  Sure, his character here is a touch weak and predictable (think Memphis Raines from GONE IN 60 SECONDS), but something’s got to be said about a dude who signs up to have a robotic skeleton graphed to his body.  One thing you never want to hear someone say when you’re nodding off for surgery is “bring out the bone saw.”  Aside from some dreaded shaky cam nonsense here and there, the fights were bang on, especially the final confrontation between Max and Kruger (loved the Cherry Blossoms). 

The true underdog hero of this film is Sharlto Copley who plays a not-quite-sane merc—I don’t want to say half cyborg, but also jacked up on robotics—who handles wetworks for Jodie Foster, an Elysium bureaucrat who rules border jumping with an iron fist.  Copely (the frontrunner of Blomkamp’s DISTRICT 9, and the dude who rocked as Murdock in THE A-TEAM) is a blast to watch and steals every scene he’s in.  You couldn’t ask for a more larger than life villain.  Foster on the other hand, was flat and boring, not to mention a little stupid when it comes to who she trusts and letting her guard down.  Alice Braga, who proved she can handle action in PREDATORS, felt criminally underused.  And then there’s William Fichtner, who’s always a pleasure to see, but again, got a very limited amount of screen time.

ELYSIUM is a cool flick, but the grand scheme of things begged for more.  Elysium itself seemed far smaller than I would have expected, and I’d have loved to see more of the world as well as find out what went wrong.  I get the idea behind speed dialing past all that to move along the plot, but hey, I’m just being honest.  Many critics are taking shots at the science behind the film, specifically, the all curing beds on Elysium that rid the body of all abnormalities.  These wonder-beds have been around in films like this for years, people.  Remember Milla’s body reconstruction in THE FIFTH ELEMENT (of course you do), or the same body reconstruction bed on the spaceship in JASON X that turned Jason into Oober Jason (it still cracks me up that he’s referred to in the credits as “Oober Jason”)?  And that’s just a couple examples.  Don’t get me wrong, the beds on Elysium are far more blatant in their presentation, and never once explained in any capacity, so of course it’s easy to attack the logic, but come on guys, it’s a movie.  If you really want to criticize, ponder the sheer coincidence behind Kruger conveniently approaching that van at the exact second he was called into action to shoot down those ships.  All in all, good times and worth seeing on the big screen.

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