Elysium (2013)

This is going to give you second thoughts about black market surgery~

This is going to give you second thoughts about black market surgery~


INTRODUCTION. You should know before I begin: I love dystopian stories. Bleak, fantastic, sterile, post-apocalyptic! They make for imaginative and fascinating reflections of the present. Naturally I was eager to see what Elysium had to offer- alas, disappointment!

CHARACTERS. It doesn’t take long to figure out that Max (Matt Damon) is a flawed protagonist. In a way this is the film’s strong point: a man with selfish intentions leading him down paths that offer capacities for both good and evil. Unfortunately its other characters are trite archetypes who may authentically represent aspects of our reality but remain two dimensional from start to end. While I did sometimes feel sympathetic for Max, it was difficult to genuinely like anyone else. Perhaps this is a dystopia in which society rarely produces layered human beings.

STORY. Tragically predictable. It’s far too easy for us to see where they’re going with this from the getgo. The plot is generously littered with powerful themes applicable to American society: healthcare, government/corporate ties, socio-economic segregation. These subjects are deep and complex but they are portrayed in Elysium with blatancy and almost propagandic panache. As 300 felt (in context) like propaganda for US Foreign Security policy in the Middle East, as does this come across as liberal, left-wing propaganda for US Domestic policy. 

CONCLUSION. Oops, looks like I’ve slipped you a little bit of serious business! There are many things to applaud in Elysium. Its politics, its lingual diversity, its frankly fantastic action scenes. Unfortunately, Blomkamp has created a believable but unpersuasive dystopia that’s hardly worth the ticket price. I’ll applaud its message but not its art.


STORY: 5/10

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