Elysium is set in the year 2154. Earth as we know it has been stripped of its natural resources and ravaged by over-population. The worlds wealthiest have settled on a massive space station, a short distance from Earth, called Elysium. Elysium is clean, spacious and beautiful, and harbors medical technology capable of curing any disease. A governing body controls Elysium, including a president, but the real power is in the hands of Defense Secretary Delecourt (Jodie Foster). Delacourt is ruthless in her defense of Elysium, often leaning on sleeper agents on Earth and genocide of illegal aliens. Illegals are in a constant scramble to reach the utopian landscape of Alysium, many with hopes of curing their ailments.
Matt Damon is Max, a destitute factory worker who, as a kid, was orphaned and resorted to boosting cars and committing robberies just to get by. He has since cleaned up his act and has been saving for a ticket to Elysium. While assembling robots in his factory job, Max takes a large accidental dose of radiation, he is told he has 5 days to live. His unsympathetic boss, John Carlyle (William Fichtner), cruelly kicks him to the curb.
Max strikes a deal with a local gangster named Spider (Wagner Moura) to rob a rich magnate of his sensitive data in exchange for a ticket to Elysium. A medical pod can save Max’s life. A childhood love interest, Frey (Alice Braga), pleads with Max to take her sick child with him, but a violent assassin named Kruger (Sharlto Copley) has made that very difficult.
With time running out, Max must sacrifice everything to save the people he cares for and ultimately, the entire population left on Earth.
The visuals are vivid and compelling, marking Neill Blomkamp’s second consecutive triumph in that department. But where his first entry in the genre, District 9, offered a harrowing glimpse of a dystopian future accented by a unique storyline and superb performances, Elysium cripples under its own weightiness. From the under explained political drama to a humdrum love interest, Blomkamp directs this film so quickly that all plot lines carelessly spill into one another. This speed carries into fight scenes as well, where everything is often shaky cam, it becomes difficult to discern was is happening on-screen.
While not a complete loss, Elysium is a pot left simmering. It’s not as smart or as creative as District 9. However, due to its special effects beauty and a compelling villain, Elysium will satisfy most forgiving genre fans. Elysium is in theaters now.
Rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout.
Read detailed scoring and more on FilmObsession.com