In the year 2154, the super rich have fled the overpopulated Earth and moved to the luxurious space habitat Elysium. There is no poverty, no sickness and no war on Elysium and the contrast between there and Earth gets greater with each passing moment. Max De Costa (Matt Damon) learns that he has no hope of beating his cancer battle so he decides to break into the Space habitat sanctuary and undergo a medical procedure on Elysium to cure him of the disease. The strict anti-immigration laws on Elysium are policed by Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her band of hardened troops led by Agent Kruger (Sharlto Copley). Max faces his two huge battles to help his life, and bridge the gap between rich and poor.
We were huge fans of director Neill Blomkamp’s previous film District 9, so were excited to see him return to a film genre that he had already seen success with. Alongside bringing his friend and colleague Sharlto Copley from District 9, he gained Jason Bourne himself – Matt Damon, who has become quite the action hero in the past few years. With this big combination we were hopeful of a bigger and stronger take of the themes explored in District 9. Sadly Elysium never quite manages to hit the points it aims for throughout the film.
That’s not to say it’s a bad film, Damon gives an enthusiastic and energetic performance in the lead. We know he can rumble with the best of them in fight scenes (And he receives a few of those) but it’s his natural wit and humour that progresses in the film, these moments only appear occasionally but they are well worked and relieve some of the tension that has gone before it.
Jodie Foster plays it straight down the middle and doesn’t enthuse too much aggression in her character. This makes her seem rather weak considering her role in the entire proceeding. Fortunately it’s left to Sharlto Copley to be one of the most devilish, uncaring characters we have seen on screen in recent years. His disregard for human life is way past the line of psychopath and into crazed loon territory. The constant menace he gives out leaves the film on a knife edge every time he is on screen.
Where Elysium falls down is with everything else apart from the acting. The script moves sharply along but doesn’t give any great detail as to back stories beyond those we need to know, and even then they are thrown into the film just before the required moment so we know what is happening in the current story. We would have preferred to see the entire back story in the first third and then moved onto the main film.
There are several plot holes in the film that are never picked up again and kept us wondering why it had been feed into the story. Considering Elysium is meant to be a blockbuster film, the CGI is very poor. The wide space shots look great but the closer we get into the scenes it’s impossible to miss how lacking of true attention to detail it is. These effects should be big punchy moments on screen, yet the film makers seem to miss vital colourisation moments throughout the entire film.
Elysium should have been so much stronger considering the wealth of talent on board. But an off-kilter script that never connects you fully to any character, apart from the one evil bad guy, and some seriously average CGI drags the film down into a mediocre affair that left us feeling disappointed.