REVIEW: Elysium

2 03 2015

In April 2014, I started watching “Elysium” when I observed that it had arrived in my library. I grimaced my way through roughly 45 minutes and either fell asleep or became unavoidably detained. Then I just never got around to picking it back up again and wound up having to return the disc in order to avoid facing a fine.

I kept telling myself that I needed to pick it up just to finish it for the sole purpose of formulating some coherent thoughts to write a review. This internal conversation continued for nearly an entire year inside my head until, finally, I decided to give it another go since “District 9” writer/director Neill Blomkamp would soon unleash “Chappie” on theaters everywhere.

In short, I regret this decision.

The most interesting aspect of “Elysium” is how on earth something so violently anti-capitalist, anti-1% managed to find funding in the first place. Sure, some of these movies do manage to get through, but they are usually independently financed and then released without the help of a major studio. They also seem to temper their rage, at least enough to prevent the enterprise from seeming like an all-out vilification of the wealthy.

Blomkamp formulates a compelling scenario for his film, a world where the rich have fled a polluted, overcrowded planet to inhabit Elysium. Here, in this literal representation of what the Greeks mythologized as a paradise for heroes, those who can afford it can frolic around a ring orbiting the earth knowing that their health is always secure. Of course, anyone who lives up in the air has to resemble a cartoonish villain, even Jodie Foster’s Defense Secretary Delacourt.

Matt Damon’s Max Da Costa, ailing from a workplace accident that left him exposed to dangerous radioactive material, leads the small proletariat revolution against those hoarding access to medical care. It might have made for a fascinating, discussion-worthy visualization of the figurative “class warfare” narrative that gets tossed around quite a bit in the political sphere. Instead, it’s a boring, derivative action flick where the only thing more simpleminded than the ideology is the violent melee.  C2stars

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