Elysium is a very well executed action film that deviates from the formula enough to retain interest while avoiding the traps of many films. I had an opportunity to see Elysium in a preview via gofobo.
NOTE: there are gruesome scenes with strong violence and foul language is quite prevalent – it earned its R rating.
Matt Damon (Max) and Jodi Foster (Delacourt) put in the kind of performance one comes to expect from them; professional, full-out and intense (in very different ways). Mr. Damon is the gritty anti-hero with some great skills used in a checkered past on an Earth that is a serious mess. Ms. Foster is an über controlling defense minister for Elysium which is paradise off Earth. She is the iron lady on steroids. Elysium constantly plays out these choice points and their consequences. SciFi is once again used to address the issues of the day (more examples of SciFi addressing issues here, here and here): disparity among conditions in which we live. Damon is more “existential”, reacting to a difficult life as it happens while Delacourt is planned and deliberately clinging to “the good life” no matter what impact to her neighbors on Earth.
The whole cast is excellent with Alice Braga (Frey) as the childhood friend and long-lost love of Max, Diego Luna as Max’s friend (and former partner in crime) Juilio and Wagner Moura (Spider) particularly standout with solid performances by baddies William Fichtner (Carlisle) and Sharlto Copley (Kruger). Mr. Fichtner commands presence whenever he is on the screen. You quickly learn to love (or hate) the characters rather quickly without Mr. Blomkamp resorting to complete stereotypes; he takes his obviousness with a twist.
The pacing of the movie is fast but not frenetic, the camera work is perfect with a close, jerky touch on Earth and smooth long vistas on Elysium. Everything sets the stage for the juxtaposition of Earth to Elysium. Basically, being here is horrific amongst the “have-nots” and being up there is fabulous with the “haves”. This is especially true in our ability to be healed; in Elysium you will, on Earth, not so much.
What really sets this movie apart besides great acting and brilliant design of both Earth and Elysium is that while it’s not totally original and it follows the path of the action move, it doesn’t settle for the obvious choices. The other is that it is executed so well. The robots are perfect, Elysium is slick and the grit and grime of Earth is palpable.
Spider is willing to take advantage of others but, ultimately thinks beyond himself. Max is pretty self-focused on survival but is sacrificial in his actions. The action follows suit; the fights don’t take forever to resolve, the bad guys do present some surprises and actual battles vary and seem fairly plausible.
Overall, it is well-worth seeing if the violence and language is manageable for you. It’s also worthwhile to think about how much we cling to what we have and the cost to others. The people on Elysium think it’s all a zero-sum game; I must give up and suffer for you to have. Ironically, it is the “system” and robots who lead the way to reaching out In Elysium. Christian thought breaks out of that box; Jesus says give and it will be given to you. Your work is not to acquire but to glorify Him in giving and loving. Doing so will produce a less artificial, guarded and clinging “Elsium” where you’re in constant worry of losing what you have and alleviate the horrific conditions of Earth where life is not valued. There is a better path – love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.