Studio-Provided Plot Synopsis: In the year 2154, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. The people of Earth are desperate to escape the planet’s crime and poverty, and they critically need the state-of-the-art medical care available on Elysium – but some in Elysium will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve their citizens’ luxurious lifestyle. The only man with the chance bring equality to these worlds is Max (Matt Damon), an ordinary guy in desperate need to get to Elysium. With his life hanging in the balance, he reluctantly takes on a dangerous mission – one that pits him against Elysium’s Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her hard-line forces – but if he succeeds, he could save not only his own life, but millions of people on Earth as well.
My Thoughts: Elysium is one of those films I went into with solid expectations, enjoyed while watching, then started changing my mind on the film the more I thought about it. What still works, in my mind, is the first act of the film. The film does an excellent job establishing Max’s world, making it abundantly clear why Max wants to escape to Elysium. After the first act, though, the politics begin to create some problems. On the surface, I enjoy the very political tone the film strikes, and I think that it’s entirely possible to be clear with a political message in this type of film. Hell, writer/director Neil Blomkamp did as much in his Oscar-nominated District 9. As I think about it, though, I don’t know if the film’s execution works all that well. The issues presented are too narrow for a world that should allow for far more issues. Finally, there’s the matter of Jodie Foster. Her above-title billing is just because she’s Jodie Foster – the character barely registers, and the most notable thing I can say about Delacourt is that her accent is all over the place. I can see this being a Razzie-nominated performance for the actress.