Matt Damon – check. Jodie Foster – check. “District 9” director – check. Storyline – uncheck.
While Elysium boasts award winning and critically acclaimed actors and director, the film is not only contrived and preachy, it’s also one big snooze fest.
Set in the year 2154, wealthy earthlings move to Elysium, which is a man-made space station that has everything – housing, jobs, no crime and top notch healthcare where any disease or health issue can be cured in seconds. The rest of the population lives on a ravaged Earth, which is now a huge ghetto of people struggling to survive extreme poverty, disease, crime, and unemployment.
Foster’s character, a top government official, stops at nothing, including murder, to keep the people stuck on earth from immigrating to Elysium.
Damon stars as a petty criminal, who’s one of the lucky few who has a job, albeit a very dangerous one. When he’s injured on the job and left with only days to live, he risks everything to get to Elysium, which he soon realizes could mean freedom not for just him but for all the poor souls left on Earth.
Unfortunately, while the storyline sounds great, the film lacks in the basis of its plot, which is a shame since it comes from writer/director Neill Blomkamp of the 2009 breakout hit “District 9,” another message film.
In “Elysium,” everyone on Earth appears to speak English and Spanish. This makes since because of the current headlines of mainly Spanish-speaking people trying to get to the United States and one can see the parallel with the immigration issues of those trying to get to Elysium. But why is Damon seemingly the only white guy in his part of the world with clearly Latino folks all around? Maybe there’s a metaphor in there somewhere. But why not make Damon’s character, the lead character, Latino, to bring the full message home? Maybe that would be too literal or the studios just simply wanted a big star in the film.
As for Damon in the role, he always does a fine job, but in this case the material couldn’t help bring this film with messages of immigration and healthcare to life. Foster’s character is one-note. There’s no passion in her performance. She’s just one big meanie. And why everyone on Elysium speaks English and French, no one knows the answer. Maybe another metaphor for who knows what. Even the action sequences are not that interesting. Again, the film is one giant snooze fest.
In theaters now, “Elysium” is rated R for language and violence.