Movie Review: Elysium

By  | 

MV5BNDc2NjU0MTcwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjg4MDg2OQ@@._V1_SX214_In 2154, the world’s population occupy two very different places.  The poor live in a diseased, polluted and overpopulated earth.  The rich reside in a heavenly space station called Elysium, disease-free, exclusive and luxurious.

While mainly a sci-fi, the film is an allegory to our society, and depicts real issues, such as illegal immigration, fake citizenship, healthcare access, and politics, and how those in power choose to handle these issues. 

One of the opening scenes is a striking sequence where the robots, under the command of Elysium’s cold-hearted Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster), target hordes of people coming in space shuttles, breaching into Elysium in hopes of better lives, including a mother desperately trying to get her sick daughter to a healing body-scanning machine. 

Matt Damon (“The Adjustment Bureau“) is Max, a reformed ex-con and droid assembler, living in the slum.  When he’s exposed to a radiation blast in the factory and his days are numbered, he gets in touch with a former friend, Spider (Wagner Moura), a criminal who runs an underground high-tech network.  He makes a deal with Spider – he’d become a walking data storage unit and agree to download the contents of the brain of an Elysium industrialist overseeing his factory, John Carlyle (William Fichtner), in exchange for a ride into space and thus heal himself. 

Unbeknownst to Max and crew, John’s brain contains classified data, including  a secretive agreement between John and Secretary Delacourt to stage a political coup and the key to Elysium’s existence.  Embedded with an exoskeleton, Max is hunted by a souped-up sleeper agent, Kruger (Sharlto Copley).  Tangled in the manhunt are Max’s childhood friend, Frey (Alice Braga), and her dying daughter.

Director Neill Blompkamp creates a disturbingly realistic portrayal of the two worlds, a reality that might actually exist in a distant future.  The degraded earth appears believable.  The paradise in space is sleekly futuristic with a tropical touch.  Facial reconstruction, courtesy of special effects, looks very cool.

“Elysium” would have a better film by thoughtfully exploring the human themes and developing the characters, instead of focusing on merciless actions, excessively shot with shaky cams.  The brutality, with a gore factor, is a surprise.  At 109 minutes, this is one movie that could benefit from a longer running time.

“Elysium” is big and bombastic, but it doesn’t live up to its potential. 

Copyright (c) 2013. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, film columnist and travel/lifestyle writer.  She can be reached at  Nathalia owns a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter:

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *