Sometimes in life, we can’t understand why things are the way they are.
– Elderly nun trying to explain the unjust circumstances of life to young Max in Neill Blomkamp’s new movie Elysium
Tis’ one of the disappointments of movies that life seldom imitates art.
Otherwise we could have eagerly looked forward to a reboot of the unjust political, social and economic system a la the reboot that ultimately ends the many injustices of President Patel’s Elysium.
Alas, reboots of society on the screen seldom repeat itself in the real world!
Paradise for a Few
Elysium is set in Los Angeles, 2154.
The rich (think of them as the 1% of today) have fled our diseased, polluted and overpopulated planet to Elysium, an idyllic spot in space where disease has been conquered, lifestyle is luxurious and life is seemingly forever.
But on Planet Earth, things couldn’t be worse.
Poverty, unemployment, filth, pollution and the brutal robot-cops of Elysium’s corporate chieftains have created hell for Earth’s denizens.
Earth’s inhabitants are shown speaking Spanish while French is the people’s language in Elysium.
Earth’s residents are mostly colored folks. Elysium is White only.
Max (played by a beefy mass of muscle with a shaved head known as Matt Damon ) is one of the countless unfortunate Earthlings.
A former car thief, Max is trying to turn his life around with an assembly line job in a factory when exposure to deadly radiation gives him just five-days to live.
In desperation, Max plans to get to Elysium so that he can recover in the medical pods there.
But entry to the Eden in space is verboten to Earth’s cursed lot, and enforced in lethal fashion by Elysium’s merciless Defense Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster).
But to Elysium Max must go and he will.
However Max’s ascent to Elysium is only part of the engaging story.
I tend to look at movies from two angles.
First, from an artistic perspective that considers the story, acting, photography, originality etc.
Second, how does the movie relate to my milieu.
From an artistic perspective, Elysium is decent but not exceptional.
There are some jarring elements like Max’ sketchy romance with Frey and too little color on Elysium’s inhabitants.
Elysium’s appeal is strong when you juxtapose its story to the present-day world with wealth, health, power and privileges restricted to the blessed few.
Director Neill Blomkamp comes to Elysium following the extraordinary success of his first film District 9.
Elysium is in a sense a continuation of District 9 in its overarching subject – Ill-treatment of one section of the population by another.
Only this time, those at the receiving end are also humans and the setting is now America.
Blomkamp Attacks America
Make no mistake.
Elysium is director Neill Blomkamp’s unsparing attack against present-day America.
With references in the movie to the undocumented, deportation, homeland security and illegals, and depiction of corporate exploitation of workers, mass unemployment, heavy-handed policemen, deadly missile (drone??) strikes against Earthlings trying to enter Elysium and denial of healthcare to millions, it’s hardly a secret that Blomkamp (a South African-Canadian filmmaker) is lobbing a huge grenade against America.
Elysium itself is a kind of gated community, the kind where the wealthy in America closet themselves from any contact with the 99%.
Matt Damon is in great form as the desperate Max who makes the ultimate sacrifice so that Elysium can be rebooted for the benefit of all humanity, not just a privileged few.
Jodie Foster as Elysium’s cold-blooded Defense Secretary, Sharlto Copley as the beastly Agent Kruger and Alice Braga as Frey round out other key members of the cast.
SearchIndia.com strongly recommends Elysium to all those with a social conscience.