Max (Damon) is a meaty parolee caught in the brutal mechanics of post-economic and environmental collapse. Humanity's one-percent overlords administer the ruined Earth with droids and a cruel but firm hand from the luxury of their titular orbiting colony; this much is briskly established. After a workplace mishap Max is driven back to the criminality he was attempting to escape in order to access the organic renewal available only to the privileged residents of Elysium. I won't dump any spoilers on your head at this stage.
That's not to say nothing was sacrificed to the god of popularism. It's too pacy for one, dragging us through dirt and space like we've got a foot caught in the stirrup, engendering a haste that strips out too much development, compressing characters and backstory that deserved a more meaningful treatment. The grimy vision suffers definite moments of inelegant embellishment-failure (the fake blossom trees *ahem* hot-glue-gunned into the gantry fight scene- ehh ohh). The gease imposed on Damon's protagonist by his misfortune seemed far too cursory; we hardly felt a thing when we should have been counting off the minutes with him. And in conforming to the one percent's drearily manicured vision, the off-world sanctuary itself feels just as suffocating as toilet-Earth; this is slyly apposite and a throws a small bone to the kind of reviewer who would bitch if it wasn't the case. Lol. Far more disappointing was the wide streak of meh we detected in the denouement, its nobler sentiments wilted by unoriginality and expedient kinetic scrummage.
Elysium deserves your full Friday night consideration. We expected a lot and it largely delivered, within the unenviable confines of its commercial parameters. Does it benefit from a distinct lack of competition? Hell yes, but so did Blade Runner. I like Blomkamp for his (relatively) inclusive verité, gratuitous explosive ordinance, thickly-accented monologues and for entertaining us with threads plucked from the very catastrophe we're facing for real. If there's nothing unreservedly inspirational about his vision, I'm not sure the fault lies with its author.
M O R E R E V I E W S H E R E