ELYSIUM

I couldn’t watch this movie without thinking, that  there was, a not very subtle political message here. This movie was either a rich conservative’s dream, or a poor conservative’s worst nightmare. Los Angeles in the year 2154 is a vast slum, over run by brown people who speak Spanish. There are also some poor blacks and whites thrown in for good measure. The main character is one of the unfortunate ones damned to live on a ruined, polluted and impoverished earth,while the wealthy elite live in luxury on Elysium. Elysium is literally the high apple pie in the sky to reach for and Max played by Matt Damon has dreamed of going there ever since he was a child. Skip ahead twenty or so years and Max is an ex-con working in a factory.

Shockingly the bosses in 2154 are much like the bosses of 2013 Uncaring unsympathetic and arrogant. Max is given the age  old ultimatum, do this dangerous task, that will probably result in your death or dismemberment, or I will get someone who will; in other words do it or your fired. Poor Max like the desperate peon that he is, goes into a booth to clear a blockage and is trapped and exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. The safety feature on this machine recognizes organic material but ignores it and irradiates poor Max anyway. I guess this is another failure of industry self regulation.  Any way it’s important to the plot.

Max is examined by a robot medic and given the bad news that he has only five days to live. He is also given some magic pills that will suppress the symptoms of radiation sickness until he drops dead. Thus our quest for Elysium begins. In order to survive Max must turn to Spider, the one man who might be able to smuggle him to Elysium. Spider is the 2154 equivalent of a coyote (a smuggler of human cargo). In exchange for his ticket to ride Max must resort to his old criminal ways and highjack critical data from a corrupt CEO. To aid him in his crime Max is implanted with a Mechanical  exoskeleton and a brain downloading device. During the robbery things start to go south and Max is wounded and has downloaded a deadly virus and scrambled data.

From this point on the movie is a fast paced gun shoot with lots of explosions and a high body count and a cool cyborg boss fight toward the end. There are a few things wrong with the movie physics, for instance why would the space station stop spinning during the reboot, and why weren’t there any physical consequence, like a loss of gravity or things violently shifting because of a sudden stop.

On the other hand the special effects were Awesome and realistic. Writer/director Neil Blomkamp has an eye for the gritty and realistic. The main character was on a purely selfish mission, to save himself and not on some high and mighty quest to save a dying child as the trailer insinuated.

Jodie Foster played the Evil space queen with impeccable panache and Matt Damon makes a credible action hero. Other fine performances were played by William Fichtner (Carlyle) Alice Braga (Frey) and  Wagner Moura (Spider). This was a fun action yarn and I’ll probably watch it again on cable.

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