In the future, we can trust that Jason Bourne will be RoboCop and save the day.
It’s the year year 2154 and basically, the planet Earth has gone to shit. So shitty, in fact, that the most of the better-off citizens have now fled to an ideal, carefree space-station Elysium, where they don’t have to worry about injury, disease, poverty, being dirty, or anything at all for that matter. Because they run such a tight ship up there, mainly thanks to the Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster), nobody from Earth gets into their atmosphere or comes even close to polluting it. Their so well-off, that everybody down on planet Earth is just struggling to get by and make ends meet, especially factory-worker and ex-con Max DeCosta (Matt Damon), who now has an even bigger burden on his back of only being allowed 5 days left to live, due to a mishap at the factory he works at. In order to get back at the high-priced, corporate-heads that seemingly ruined his life and wanted nothing to do with him, Max has found a way to become super-strengthened, brutal, and ready for a fight, in hopes that he can take over Elysium, save his life, and gain many others on Earth, citizenship to roam about and have the same benefits as the ones on Elysium. However, when you have a whole space-station against you, as well as a ruthless mercenary (Sharlto Copley) who’s hungry for blood, the objective may be a lot harder for seemingly a one-man-army.
Yeah, sorry for the long-ass synopsis but I can’t help it. This movie got me pumped-up and still has me going a little bit crazy in the head! Not because it was confusing, mind-numbing, or psychological in any way, but because it’s straight and pure, sci-fi action-flick that we could only get during the last month of summer, and done so well by the same man who made a relatively similar blockbuster 4 years ago with District 9: Neil Blomkamp. That’s right, even though there are no aliens in refugee camps here, there’s still plenty of themes and ideas that Blomkamp likes to tuggle with, but also have some insane action go on as well, which is some of the best, most thrilling I’ve seen all summer. Don’t get me wrong, these past 3 months haven’t been lame or action-less at all, but they haven’t necessarily had me jumping in my seat quite as much as this one did throughout it’s hour-and-40-minute time-limit.
Honestly, it all just goes to show you what type of writer/director you’re working with here with Blomkamp as the guy seems like he has a vision, sticks to it, makes his points, but never gets over-preachy and forgets about what really matters the most about this flick: The enjoyment-factor. Plenty of times you can just hear Blomkamp’s material crying out, “immigration is bad”, “the government’s corrupt”, and even a little bit of “we are “the one percenters””, but it’s never over-done to where we stray away from the thrills and chills of this action, which is made even better by Blomkamp’s grand-eye for detail to creating this world and making it his, even if isn’t the most original thing out there in the world. Pretty much, you can tell that instead of there being aliens living in these run-down shacks, there’s humans, and also robots, however, Blomkamp keeps it interesting using CGI that almost looks too real to be taken as science-fiction. Even the little utopia of Elysium seems like it could be happening right outside in space right now, that’s how impressive these visuals are.
But enough of the visuals, back to the movie itself. What works here the most is that no matter where this story goes, no matter how many twists it throws at us, or hell, what it has to say about what it’s all a metaphor for; the movie never ceases to be thrilling. You’ll be on the edge of your seat for the longest amount of time, and even though there’s a couple of soft spots here and there for character-development and exposition, the movie continues to move and move at a rapid speed that you’ll feel like you’re all wrapped-up in this race along with Max and the rest of his friendly-followers. The world looks beautiful and realistic enough to bring you in, but it’s the pace and the energy that Blomkamp brings which keeps you there, and rarely ever lets you go. You’ll root for the good guys, even when they stand-up against the biggest and the worst obstacles in their way; and you’ll shiver in fright whenever you see a baddie coming from a mile away, putting you in the place of knowing something that the goodies don’t know. That feeling is what makes, but can also break most action-thrillers, but it does more of the former to this one and it’s a testament to Blomkamp’s direction for never settling for less and always going for the loud, thrashing sounds of bullets, explosions smacks, grabs, punches, breaks, and whatever the hell else the man has to throw at us or his characters.
Basically, in a nutshell: Blomkamp is the type of director, in general, that you have to keep your eye on. The man’s already two movies down, and he’s taking the sci-fi game by storm. Hell, he’s taking movies by storm! Just watch out for this guy. I’m telling ya!
First, we had a respected, quality-actor like Brad Pitt take on a “genre flick” earlier this summer with World War Z, and now his buddy here, Matt Damon, has done the same thing; except the fact that Damon’s may have been a better choice for him and his career in the long run. Damon’s general likability, and every-day look and feel of his acting repertoire, works so well for this character and has you immersed in Max and his story right away. We get that he’s a troubled guy, who grew up as an orphan, dreamed big, but had very little happen for him, and as hackneyed as that may sound, Blomkamp and Damon make it work and comes off as sympathetic. We feel for Max right from the beginning, and we follow him as he goes through whatever he has to do to stay alive, keep his morals in check, and also save other’s lives as well. Max isn’t a perfect human-being in the least bit, he can actually be kind of selfish at times, but he feels like a human-being nonetheless, and a very compelling one to watch as well. It probably also helps that Damon is always down for looking the part of a total ass-kicker, and it’s nice to see that his trimming-down days didn’t stop with the end of the Bourne franchise. Tack on a head full of nothing but skin, and you got a scary mofo; something I’d never thought I’d say about a performance coming from the always lovable Matt Damon.
The person in this movie who I can say is easily the exact opposite in terms of character and acting here is Sharlto Copley as the mean, lean, blood-thirsty mercenary assigned the unofficial, but official task of killing Max before he goes too far into the system. In all honesty, Copley is so over-the-top, so crazy, and so insane with this role, that he ends up just about stealing the whole movie, despite him being totally out-of-place among the rest of the flick. Any lesser-actor probably would have been a freak-show you couldn’t love to just sit, point, and laugh at, but Copley, with about 3 movies I’ve seen him in so far, shows that he’s capable of making a total nut-job, actually frightening to be around, rather than a total joke from beginning to end. You know that once he shows up, bad shite is going to happen, and nothing’s going to bode well for the people he’s pursuing, which makes him all the more detestable, but also utterly and completely watchable. The scenes with him and Damon, whether they are chatting, fighting, or macho-posturing the shit out of the other, are filled with much deserved tension and suspense, as if the movie itself is going to rip apart and just let these two go at it for days on end.
The only one in this cast that I couldn’t really care for all that much was surprisingly Jodie Foster as the snarly, evil Secretary Delacourt. And trust me, it’s not that Foster gives a bad performance per se, hell, I think she’s incapable of doing so, but it something does seem to be a bit too weird about her character, from the accent that she forces out with every line, and what her real motivations are behind all of the sneaky crap she’s pulling. It was also probably more disappointing to see Foster in such a role that was meant to be so meaningful to the rest of the story, but somehow, wasn’t. From the trailers and even the posters, you’d think she’d have a bigger role everything, but she sort of takes the back-seat to some of the biggest, most pounding scenes, even if you know she’s somewhere in the background. Her presence is felt, but almost in the sense that you know she’s just waiting to act her ass off, yet, isn’t given the chance to. It’s all fine and wondrous because we’re able to be distracted by the rock-solid action and suspense, but it still feels like something is missing, and it’s Ms. Foster herself. Or at least more of her.
Consensus: Despite featuring most of the same ideas and points Blomkamp studied, and did a lot better with, in his first flick, Elysium still grabs ahold of you with it’s compelling, emotional story, continues to work it’s tension up, until it’s about to practically explode and take you down with it. That’s a good thing, by the way.
8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!