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article imageReview: ‘Elysium’ carries class warfare to the future Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Aug 8, 2013 in Entertainment
In ‘Elysium,’ the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while everyone else lives on a devastated Earth, but one man embarks on a mission that could return a balance to a divided world.
Director Neill Blomkamp is proving to have a fascination with dystopias; particularly those that segregate a society. In his feature debut, District 9, "the other" was separated on a biological basis – human versus alien – but in Elysium, the dividing line is far more subjective and socially motivated.
Max (Matt Damon) and Frey (Alice Braga) grew up in an orphanage in the slums of Los Angeles, dreaming of one day living on the floating utopia known as Elysium. Most of Earth has been left to rot by the world's wealthy elite in favour of the off-world habitat. There, people live free of pollution and disease with a cure for any ailment. But when the medical technology on Elysium is his only chance of survival after an industrial accident, Max will do anything to get there. With the help of Frey and his best friend Julio (Diego Luna), he might even live long enough to change the world.
In this dire future, poverty and sickness suppress the population. Robotic police patrol the streets to keep the increasingly desperate populace in line. Citizens of Elysium have no sympathy for them, viewing Earth's remaining habitants as expendable, cheap labour that want nothing more than to destroy their way of life. Defense Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) treats them as terrorists. It's the return of the division between noblemen and serfs – with a sci-fi twist. It's far more difficult to overthrow the ruling class when they do not occupy the same atmosphere.
In addition to spacecraft and medical advancements, weaponry and knowledge transfer were improved. Nonetheless, the main fight sequence still boils down to an old fashioned knife fight though it’s a bit blurry. People carry digital data in their brains, using a small device resembling a Bluetooth earpiece. This nod to Johnny Mnemonic is further acknowledged by naming the black market dealer Spider. Appropriately, the scrap ecto-skeleton with which Max is equipped looks medieval in spite of its futuristic abilities.
Sony Pictures
While all the visual and political elements were obviously composed with careful thought and attention drawing on the current economic climate, there are still some holes in the story's logic that are never addressed. The main issue can be found with a world that has escaped the trappings of overpopulation to create a society that has virtually eliminated natural death. Less significant is the missed opportunity to point out the irony that this manufactured utopia is so lush with fauna when at least some of its inhabitants would have made the fortunes that permitted this luxury by exploiting the same resources on Earth and contributing to its current state.
Damon channeled his Jason Bourne action hero persona during several scenes in the film, though he also displays moments of extreme desperation and compassion. His nemesis is Kruger, a merciless mercenary, played by Sharlto Copley, who values human life as little as his employers. He's disturbingly precise about his missions and cruel in most of his interactions. Foster is the go-to actress when a script calls for an emotionless, stern female, but the accent hurts an otherwise mediocre performance.
This picture is not as ground shaking as Blomkamp's first outing, but it is by no means a disappointing follow-up.
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley
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