Film Review: “Elysium” (2013)

A morality play about illegal immigration built on an Amalgam of three other films:

Oblivion (Tom Cruise- 2013)
Blade Runner (Harrison Ford- 1982)
Mad Max (Mel Gibson-1979)

And of course the obligatory CGI backdrop, although some scenes were filmed in Mexico.

It’s way far in the future and the earth is a hopeless overcrowded, polluted chunk of misery. The rich and entitled have moved to Elysium, a huge rotating space station full of mansions and Stepford Wives, overseen by a particularly cold blooded “Homeland Security” officer insuring no dilution of the lifestyle occurs from the unwashed denizens below.

Matt Damon is an earthbound guy with a quickly terminal disease trying to get to Elysium for the freely available curative health care. By an accidental chain of events, everyone needs to catch Damon for different reasons, so the second half of the film is a prolonged chase replete with the obligatory CGI pyrotechnics.

The film is a thinly veiled criticism of what some consider our current immigration policy to be, with a side comment on universal health care. This criticism of the inequity of closed borders fails to address bigger pictures such as how it got that way and how the earth might benefit over the long haul owning a small respite. The portrayal of the earthly losers and the rich entitled are both overblown for effect.

The story line is small-bore, the “real” problems of immigration are minimized or ignored and the inability to effectively kill any of the villains becomes tedious. An aging Jodie Foster is woefully miscast and doesn’t come off as a bloodless bureaucrat. Matt Damon puts in a lifeless performance that could have been accomplished by any other minor leaguer.

That said, the villains came more to life than the heros. South African filmmaker Sharlto Copley, with his strange quasi-Australian accent is impeccably menacing and effectively evil with a smarmy twist. Brazilian Wagner Moura is super as the overwrought computer hacker bent on taking over Elysium. the villains are far more interesting than the heros.

Best feature: Sharlto Copley

Worst feature: Matt Damon’s silly ectoplasm. Too many improbably endless chase scenes.

I give it 2 of five computer screens screwed into Damon’s skull. Wait till it comes around on HBO and root for the villains

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