Well, that was a mess.
Elysium is the writer/director Neil Blomkamp’s follow up to District 9. It is a prime example of what happens when you have someone who before was used to scraping by to create his movies and give him all the funding in the world. There was a good story there, another story similar to District 9‘s about inequality and how humans needs to learn to work together instead of constantly separating ourselves. But, alas, Elysium is full of special effects and a lot of missteps.
Plot Summary Time! Max (Matt Damon) was a street rat who grew up in the ghettos of Future!LA. Now he’s trying to stay straight and do his (shitty) job and stay on the right side of the law. Ever since he was a child, he dreamed of going to Elysium, the orbiting space station where all the rich white French speaking people went after the Earth got too dirty for them. But the world has worn him down and he has forgotten that dream. And he hates everything, just trying to get by. Then shit happens and he only has days to live and he must go back to his ghetto ways to try to save his own life…by getting to Elysium!!!!
One of the big problems with the movie is that it takes waaaaaaaaay too long to get going. There’s a lot of world building that needs to be done, but it could have been done with more finesse in half the time. But it was probably a lot more fun to find two kids that kinda looked like Matt Damon and the other girl and have them be all “we are BFFs and some day we will run away together”. I’d say at least 30 minutes of the movie was spent in creating an unnecessary backstory for our main character.
Except the backstory that needed to happen was HOW DID ANYONE LET ELYSIUM HAPPEN!? How did the entire world decide this was okay? I was sort of hoping the twist would be an underground group on Elysium was trying to help out the people on Earth. Is part of the screening process to become a citizen on Elysium that you’re a selfish asshole? Also, wouldn’t that limit the gene pool?? These are the things that would have been better explored. Instead we focus on Max, who is just this guy, you know? He’s not particularly interesting. He’s the cookie cutter ex-con trying to do good but oh we know he’s only this far from being bad again.
Accents are a problem in this movie, to the point that I wish they had just thrown them out completely. Actually, I think the biggest problem was Damon’s LACK of an accent. Jodie Foster flips between French and British accents. Her crony has a thick South African accent. Most of the people in L.A. have Spanish accents. Damon, who grew up with all these people…he just talks like Matt Damon. He should have done his thick Southie accent, at least. I know it wouldn’t have fit in L.A. but this is the FUTURE and at leas the would have sounded more ghetto than he did. Slapping fake tattoos on Matt Damon does not make me believe he is an ex-con. Sorry.
Yeah, what a mess of a movie. There is nothing new here and it’s kind of disappointing. District 9 had so much more going on with it, even though the themes were the same. But in that movie, we really got to see Wikus grow. Max is pretty much the same until the very end.
Disappointing all around. If you’re curious, it’s worth a rental or wait until it pops up on a streaming service. But I think you could spend your time better.