It’s the year 2154, and as the sci-fi film, “Elysium,” sees it, life on earth is radically different from how it is today.
In fact, for a privileged few, it isn’t even lived on terra firma, but on a sort of space wheel or station orbiting the planet, which has been reduced to an overpopulated, ruined habitat where the unprivileged struggle to survive.
The film’s star, Matt Damon, plays a member of this lower class of people, an ex-con who’s resigned to a life of forced servitude (he works in a factory where security robot cops are manufactured).
One day, however, he is compelled to become a hero when the mother of a desperately ill child persuades him to take them to the space station, where amazing medical miracles are routinely effected by machines that can heal everything. They can even reconstruct severely damaged skin, flesh and bone tissues! —Well, this is a sci-fi film, after all!
Damon’s main nemesis, played by Jodie Foster, is Elysium’s cold-hearted Secretary Delacort, who runs a very tight spaceship and makes absolutely sure that nobody from the “other,” lesser earth is able to create trouble in her archly antiseptic version of Paradise.
She usually gets what she wants—but, unexpectedly finds her match in Damon’s lowly persona, who uses his wits and street-smarts to foil the perfect world that she’s created.
Damon is also greatly aided by technology that includes a far-out contraption that is literally plugged into his cortex and spinal column, and transforms him into a super-powerful fighting machine!
In addition, it enables his brain to record a lot of top-secret computer data, including the complex codes that make Elysium’s amazing future world function.
Some of “Elysium’s” sequences are imaginatively conceptualized and staged, but others tend to get repetitive, so the thrill is soon gone. It’s a good thing that Damon works hard to come up with a grittily-believable performance, which goes a long way to keep viewers interested and involved in his desperate struggle.
It’s also quite “involving” to know that Damon doesn’t set out to be a hero, he just wants to survive—until other people desperately need his help, so he’s forced to measure up to their expectations.
It’s only much later that his mission to help them get healed escalates into an even bigger effort to subvert Elysium’s entire security system, so that the space station’s beneficial machines can help the teeming millions who need them more.
How this “democratizing” denouement is pulled off in the movie is more than a bit of a stretch, so the production can be faulted on point of believability, as well.
Still, when the whole deal is said and done, we find ourselves really ruing the fact that Elysium’s amazing, all-healing machines are only figments of this film’s makers’ imagination!
Time to wake up from the fantasticating cinematic dream. —(Sigh).