Elysium (R)

Action/Adventure 109 August 9th, 2013
By Stephanie Zacharek
In Neill Blomkamp's dystopian science-fiction fantasy, Matt Damon's Max is a tattooed grunt stranded on the Earth of the future, a dismal, dried-out planet filled with have-nots who live short, brutish lives. The rich have long ago decamped to their own shiny, inhabitable satellite, Elysium, where all its citizens enjoy miraculous health-o-matic machines installed in every home. Following a series of unfortunate events-- on this future Earth, there is no other kind-- Max accepts a mission to help his fellow citizens. Among the obstacles in his way are Elysium's super-defensive secretary-of-defense-type Delacourt (Jodie Foster), who makes her entrance in a Jetsons-worthy tailored white dress and a Tilda Swinton haircut, looking so sharp you could cut yourself on her flaring nostrils. You don't have to be a bloodhound to smell an allegory shaping up here, particularly if you've seen writer-director Blomkamp's 2009 debut feature, District 9, in which members of an extraterrestrial race who have landed on Earth are forced to live in grimy slums while humans get the cushy suburbs. Elysium doesn't have District 9's brashness. Thematically it looks and feels almost like a sequel, made with a lot more money though not with more ingenuity or feeling, and while Blomkamp's message is morally stalwart, his delivery system sure is a bummer. You can see why Damon would be attracted to this material, whose politics are in line with his own. But he looks sluggish even when he’s on the run. In Elysium, not even cheerful, smart, principled, energetic Matt Damon can save the world without figuratively stopping every so often to say, "Oy! My back!"
Neill Blomkamp Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Carly Pope, Faran Tahir Neill Blomkamp Bill Block, Simon Kinberg, Neill Blomkamp TriStar Pictures