Science fiction is supposed to be the triumph of thought-provoking story concepts, where an author’s imagination is rich enough to extrapolate the future out of bits of the present. Such scrutiny applies a magnifying glass to current social issues, weighing them against technological advances and tossing the mix with human nature.
Elysium’s battle of the haves against the have-nots chose to drown out its premise with so-called action, consisting of a nauseating amount of jiggle-cam and exploding body parts.
If you like gore, you’ll leave the theater fully satiated.
As an action film, it’s okay. My disappointment stems from a potential that was not fulfilled. It is the smaller moments in Elysium which are most successful and most affecting, and there are too few of them: Matt Damon trying to explain himself to a robot parole officer; a friend’s charming attempt to lure Matt Damon back into criminal activity; the whipped-dog look on an evil supervisor’s face when the more-evil company founder berates him for a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t decision. Matt Damon’s distress when his childhood friend begs for help while he knows that every second he spends near her is putting her in more danger.
The lines drawn between the haves and have-nots are a bit black and white for my taste. All poor people are good, even the criminals understand honor and friendship. All the wealthy elite are evil. At their very best, they are willfully ignorant.
The only exception is the team of covert operatives Jodie Foster sends after Matt Damon. They don’t count because they are privileged in their own way, having advanced toys and license to carry out their psychopathic tendencies.
We see the touching struggles of the people of Earth. I wish we had been given a more human face of those born to privileged Elysium.