In Greek, Elysium means a place of ideal happiness. For just over two hours, watching Neill Blomkamp’s “Elysium” turned the Hollywood Arclight Theater into my euphoric place of happiness.
Starring Matt Damon as a grungy futuristic criminal turned assembly line worker, Blomkamp is quick to show off his mega budget with expansive views of a dystopian Los Angeles future. Complete with overwhelming urban sprawl, overcrowded metropolitan centers, and a city skyline that looks even more hopeless than a third world country, year 2154 LA is not the tourist destination it is today. On a positive note, LA — which has never been known as a public transportation mecca — finally appears to have figured out a workable bus system by the 22nd century.
Staying true to current politics, instead of helping the masses, the most elite (or the 1% if you will) flee Earth and set up a new home in Elysium, which is essentially a man-made, floating Beverly Hills in space.
Proving that bald is the universal sign of being a badass, Damon’s Max character is quick to give up his domestic lifestyle after being accidently pumped with a lethal dose of radiation. With just five days to live, Max welds a high-tech super suit into his flesh, and sets out to illegally enter the Über rich Elysium — where modern medicine has cured every disease.
Not so discreetly concealed behind whopping amounts of high tech gadgetry, slow motion headshots, and video game levels of violence, Blomkamp does not shy away from telling a story oozing with social commentary. The film takes place in Los Angeles, where everyone — including Damon — speaks Spanish. This futuristic vision of LA is overcrowded, filled with disease, and violence. In the distance, salvation can be seen. Do you want me to keep going? Okay, fine, you asked for it.
In Elysium, only the people that have been born in the floating space state are able to receive medical attention. That doesn’t stop the people of future Earth, however, from trying to illegally enter Elysium’s border.
Despite being incredibly heavy handed at times, Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, and Sharlto Copley do a great job masking Blomkamp’s socially conscious script behind a glitzy facade.
There’s a saying around Hollywood — actually I wouldn’t really know because I live in Thai Town — but in any case, someone, somewhere, once told me in passing that ‘you are only as good as your next big project.’ For director Neill Blomkamp, following up any successful Hollywood movie would be tough, let alone the four-time Academy Award nominated film “District 9.” Verifying that “The Lord Of The Rings” himself, Peter Jackson, picked a great filmmaker to mentor, Blomkamp successfully marries the same type of socially relevant sci-fi that made his 2009 directing debut so celebrated with Big Budget Summer Blockbuster style action.
“Elysium” does leave the viewer asking one final question.
If Matt Damon, the whitey-white man best known for “Good Will Hunting,” is the necessary catalyst for futuristic border change, what does that say about our current Mexico/America immigration problems?
By David Morris