Will our future look much like our present? Will technology in itself save us from a world of want? Those, among other questions about humanity and our society are among the questions raised in Elysium is the second film of director Neill Blomkamp. The South African film director, known for 2009’s sleeper science fiction film District 9 returns with another film in the genre.
Elysium depicts a future where there are two classes of people: the wealthy, and everybody else. The well off have all banded together to leave Earth and live on a space station in its immediate orbit. Who is left on Earth, to suffer: The rest of humanity. While the divisions are stark, they are an extrapolation of issues we face today.
Matt Damon stars as the protagonist Max, a factory worker with a shady past. Through no fault of his own, he becomes ill, and his only hope is to make it to Elysium where everyone has health care. The film fills out, as Max goes on this journey, and his struggle ties into the overarching themes of society’s issues at large. Elysium tackles the issues of xenophobia, immigration, class struggle and conflict, and health care. While the messages are there, they are not overbearing. This writer noticed that Blomkamp took a shot at the Carlyle Group in a way.
There has been some backlash directed at this film, and given the social commentary implicit, it is not hard to see why. One can surmise that a few reviewers may not have liked the film because they deem it as “heavy handed” when all that means is that what it hits too close to contemporary conditions. Summer films are not supposed to be so thick with messages, and Elysium is a sci fi action film with a lot of violence, and content too. In this writer’s opinion, it is the best film of this summer, even edging out Star Trek Into Darkness. For Blomkamp to tell an interesting and compact story, and set up a plausible world 150 years into the future is a feat. One that I feel was accomplished well. I recommend seeing this film.