A film which is set in the future but can be seen as a Hollywood commentary on the present times is a satisfactory movie experience. This is Neill Blomkammp’s second feature after the brilliant debut, District 9, and if compared, it honestly doesn’t match up to that level. However, Elysium is an entertaining picture in the pulpy science-thriller fashion, constantly displaying the trademark style of the director.
His cinema verite camerawork mixed with the brilliantly-executed special effects is one of the strengths of the movie. Not saying that the story isn’t substantial enough to hold the attention of the viewer. A decent plot which focusses on Max de Costa (Matt Damon) who is a former thief-turned-employee in a company on Planet Earth. Yes, the term Planet Earth because the futuristic setting of Earth is shown as over-populated and unfit for a healthy life. As a result of class segregation, there is another habitat in space where all the wealthy people live and the film is about the quest of Max de Costa and the others to reach the planet and become citizens of Elysium. Simple yet clear, this story offers much of entertainment for the viewers and at the same time, acts as a commentary on various human aspects, primarily being social injustice. Although, when it comes to dealing with the issues such as xenophobia, political treachery and uneven distribution of wealth, Elysium falls short and is not able to transcend to the higher realm of science-fiction movies. Having said that, it still does justice in the context of entertainment while tangentially touching the social and economical issues.
Matt Damon gives a decent performance and justifies himself as the protagonist in the film. Jodie Foster’s screentime is less and her character seems cosmetic, a straight lift-off the prototype of such characters. Brazilian actor Wagner Moura, in his role as a smuggler spider has given a brilliant performance and his acting brings a certain intensity and madness on screen. In an attempt to elucidate the movie in terms of legacy in literature, this movie echoes the theme of John Milton’s paradise lost. Somehow, it appears as a simplified version from the Hollywood factory.
All those who love the sci-fi genre will find the film entertaining, yet they will leave the theater with a sense of dissatisfaction as we haven’t seen a classic piece of work in that genre for a long time. In terms of comparison with previous movies released this year, it is one of the best so far, but genuinely could have been better if Elysium would have manged to escape the constraints of convention.