film reel image

film reel image

Friday, October 4, 2013

Elysium 2013 * * * 1/2 Stars

Director: Neill Blomkamp
Year: 2013
Rated R
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars     Cole's Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Alice Braga

With a somewhat original and visionary take on the sci-fi genre, Elysium gave me the ultimate spine-tingling feeling I've been hoping for in a summer movie. This flick has elements of other science fiction fare but it doesn't try to copy them, it just tries to add new perspectives. Director Neill Blomkamp (he shot the Academy Award nominated District 9) has a unique style all his own. He likes to bring a sort of dirty, non-pristine look to his films (not exactly the same but in a similar vein to what Ridley Scott did with Alien). And at the same time, the cinematography is undoubtedly top notch. Being that Blomkamp is from South Africa, the film I'm reviewing along with District 9 have the look and feel of one of its cities which is Johannesburg. So in a rare feat these days, Elysium combines effectively, the complicated elements of futuristic culture with stellar action sequences. Yes, this exercise can sometimes lose a little focus with its sort of jumbled storyline, but by the last half hour, everything seems to come together just fine. As I viewed this picture with its hair raising, horn-filled musical score, I was reminded (in a lightweight sort of way) of two classic films: The Road Warrior and Blade Runner. Again, Elysium does not copy off these films by any means. But it serves as a worthy companion to both of them (it has the distinction of feeling like a true dystopian flick and a post apocalyptic flick like the aforementioned movies).

Giving star Matt Damon a deglamorizing role to sink his teeth into, Elysium takes place in the year 2154. The planet has become split up into two completely different worlds. A beautiful space station called Elysium (of course), is tailor made for the wealthy and disease free. Then there is earth, a now poor, overly populated slum where the order that exists, projects misery to everyone living there. Damon's character (Max Da Costa) is propelled to take on a mission that might possibly bring the two worlds together and provide uniform equality. Here's the dilemma: he's got to get past a cold, icy Secretary of Defense (Jessica Delacourt played stiffly by Jodie Foster) and John Carlyle (William Fichtner), a misguided CEO of the Armadyne corporation (they built Elysium). I'm not going to give anything more away. You just have to know that Elysium's plot doesn't quite kick in immediately. You just have to be patient and let this concoction take you for a ride.

Harboring a solid enough cast, I would only consider Jodie Foster to be Elysium's weak link. She is a great actress no doubt about it, but this is not the Jody Foster we know and love. Saddled with an unnatural, uncomfortable screen presence and a silly accent (I guess it was British, but I could be wrong), this might be one of the worst performances she has ever given in her 40-plus year career. On the other end of the spectrum, there's Damon. I can say with confidence, that he has found the perfect role to enhance his attributes as a rough and rugged actor (the image of him firing machine guns in slow motion is pretty darn cool). He gets totally put through the wringer in this slam bang actioner and indelibly shines throughout (his character reminded me of his Jason Bourne but more vulnerable and living in the near distant future instead of present day).

With summer sort of coming to a close, I'm glad I took in a screening of Elysium. It's a refreshing and welcoming surprise considering what's been out lately at your local multiplex (in August, there hasn't been anything write to home about, that's my report). In a sense, this is a cunning, breathtaking, challenging, and exhilarating sci-fi trip par excellence. I truly want to see it again.

Written by Jesse Burleson


  1. Couldn't agree more about this one Jesse! Loved the flick, every point you make.. down to lady Jodie. Great flick.

  2. Thanks Rob. I just loved this movie. This is my of the year by far.