Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: Elysium

Image courtesy of Sony Pictures.

Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium" could just as easily be called "Occupy Dystopia."

The film, which is a follow up to the director's surprise 2009 hit "District 9," is a social allegory masquerading as a violent sci-fi action film. And, on the whole, it's not half bad. But it's not without faults.

In the film, Matt Damon plays Max, a tattooed ex-con who works the assembly line in some sort of factory peddling radioactive materials. The year is 2154 and those who have live on Elysium, a paradise for the wealthy floating in outer space. Those who have not live on Earth, which has become disease ridden and polluted.

But when an accident at work leaves Max radioactive with only a few days to live, he vows to trek to Elysium one way or another. Standing in his way are Elysium's sinister minister of defense played by Jodie Foster and her hired thug, who is played by "District 9" star Sharlto Copley.

The film is swiftly paced and its timely ideas on the wealth gap and health care are welcome during the summer movie season, where ambition typically goes to die. That's not to say that Blomkamp and company completely carry the thing off.

In its final moments, "Elysium" does a bit of a thematic bludgeoning over the head. And several of the performances are a bit, well, strange. Sharlto Copley was solid in "District 9," but I'm not sure his character - though certainly evil - is supposed to be as aggravating as he is here. And Jodie Foster, one of the finest actresses of her generation, gives quite possibly the most odd performance I've seen since Will Smith in "After Earth."

"Elysium" is better than your average summer film. It looks good and has some pretty solid action sequences blended with topical themes. The screenplay is far from perfect, but it's serviceable. So, yeah, I liked it well enough even if it's not as good as, say, "District 9."

P.S.: Yes, I would have loved to have found a publicity still without the movie titled pasted within it, but I couldn't. And this one took a near eternity to upload.

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