My son and I had some serious anticipation for this movie. We happen to be big appreciators of "District 9", which was written and directed by a South African whipper-snapper named Neill Blomkamp, and this was to be his next big hit. The trailer was inspired. The enigmatic new actor that carried "District 9" (Sharlto Copley) was back as the antagonist and then there was the buffed up Matt Damon, you see. So our expectations were high.
So let me set it up for you. It is the year 2154, and Earth has become diseased and overpopulated. The wealthy jump ship to a sanitized, man-made world called Elysium, which is a 20 minute shuttle ride away from our ruined planet. This manufactured paradise is run by computers and robot-like humans with microchips in their brains, and all injury and disease is cured by lying in a tanning booth kinda thing. The poor and downtrodden stare up at Elysium with longing.
Max (Damon) grew up as one of the poor, an orphan, vowing to one day go to this utopia. He promises his childhood soul mate Frey (Alice Braga) that they will someday go to Elysium together. As an adult he is as far away from his goal as he could possibly be though. He is an ex-con, he lives in a shit hole, and works in a factory. One day, there is an accident, and he receives a lethal dose of radiation and is informed he has 5 days to live. He decides that it is now or never. He agrees to accept a dangerous mission that may allow him to fulfill his childhood dream and promise. And possibly, at the same time, save the Earth.
Jodi Foster gets top billing for this movie, but she plays a fairly two-dimensional ice queen that runs Elysium's "homeland security". She presses red buttons and has little value for human life and has a weird accent. She did not add any depth in the scheme of things.
My favorite character, as expected, was Sharlto Copley as Kruger, the ex-rapist under-the-radar hitman "fixer" for the administration of Elysium. He is interesting, this actor. I wouldn't mind watching him in whatever he does.
My son would completely disagree with my opinion...he thought the movie was awesome (he loved the fight scenes and the head explosions) but I was underwhelmed by it all. The plot was fairly predictable but satisfying, the acting ranged from good to boring, the world-building was OK. My son would tell you that you have to take the movie for what it is and roll with it. This is a sci-fi dystopian action flick, and to him, it delivers...great effects, great fight scenes. There are also heavy messages of class and health care disparity, as well as other social commentary. But after the first half of the movie, the plot turns barbaric and simplistic, leaving me scratching my head about system reboots and saving the world. I felt rushed. Sad that an hour and forty minute movie seems that way, but this is the way I've been programmed.
Bottom line is that I was entertained but my brain only buzzed a little. This was a missed opportunity.
3.5 out of 5 stars