Geez, asylum seeker policy in the future sucks donkey balls. Also, bad science and logic off the starboard bow
|Matt Damon as Max Da Costa|
|Alice Braga as Frey Santiago|
|Wagner Moura as Spider|
|Jodie Foster as Defense Secretary Delacourt|
|Sharlto Copley as Agent Kruger|
|with William Fitchner as John Carlyle|
In previews, Elysium looked very exciting. Here’s Matt Damon, bald and endowed with a mechanical exoskeleton shooting things like a badarse and other things exploding. There’s even a fantastically accurate depiction of a theoretical space habitat called a Stanford Torus which is the eponymous Elysium of the film. Elysium looks a lot like the Citadel in Mass Effect and it definitely looks like the type of idyllic place you’d love to live in, if you could afford it. Meanwhile, Earth is depicted as a diseased, undernourished and crowded hell hole. Actually, that’s just Los Angeles. In fact, life in 2154 in Elysium’s future looks a hell of a lot like life in China now!
Enter our hero, Max, who grew up in an orphanage with his childhood love Freya. Funny how childhood loves end up (ie. not happening). Max, in the desperation of growing up in an oppressive environment with no money or parental support turns to a life of crime. He’s recently reformed though and has a job on the assembly line of Armadyne building robots. It’s obvious that he still has a soft spot for Freya – who is a nurse – when he gets manhandled (bothandled?) by some police robots. Luckily, he’s not seriously hurt and returns to work on the assembly line but suffers a catastrophic work accident which leaves him only five days to live due to radiation poisoning. I don’t know about you, but what the hell is someone doing working that close to radiation without being shielded anyway? The chamber would have been irradiated after the treatment as well! The accident was a little contrived since the robots Max assemble would then be irradiated too! They wouldn’t be very useful robots if they ran around killing everybody slowly with cancer now would they? Hell, a lot of people don’t want to touch him because he’s radioactive. Max then sets out on a quest to save his radioactive arse by hitching a ride on to Elysium so he can use the space station’s magic healing scanners. In the interim, he is hunted by Kruger, the crazy South African mercenary leader who has an insane penchant for destruction.
We flash between Max’s adventures on Earth and and the one of the main villains of the piece, Elysium’s Defense Secretary. Defense Secretary Delacroix – who has some killer calf muscles and some even more killer mercenary soldiers on her employ – gives the order to shoot down three unregistered ships with civilians on board as they’re approaching Elysium. I mean, damn, that’s a pretty harsh refugee policy. However, one of the ships do make it past the missiles and they manage to land on Elysium. It’s clear that these people only really want to experience a better life, or at least heal diseases their children might have with Elysium’s magic healing scanners. Then, I noticed some really bad science. Elysium’s outer ring, where everyone lives, is completely open. There’s no roof. Everyone and everything should be dead because there’s nothing to hold the atmosphere in. Also, who designs a space station for rich people without at least a roof so people can’t just waltz in? I mean, that’s how these refugees get on the station, they just sort of pick a nice spot and land in a lawn. No docking procedures or anything. Then, there’s the artificial gravity. A Stanford Torus space station makes gravity by spinning and exploiting the centrifugal force imparted to objects within. Elysium does no such thing. Sure, it looks pretty, and when it’s asked to pose handsomely next to the Earth, it looks like Elysium was posing in the space station version of a Victoria’s Secret catalogue, but why didn’t the people who made this movie think about this?
Even more bad science follows. Kruger takes a grenade explosion to his face at some point. It’s a pretty gruesome scene and it’s not like the movie spares you from it. Anyway, Kruger should be dead, but he isn’t. Somehow, despite his skull having been rearranged like a badly assembled Ikea shelving unit, medical scanners have detected “normal brain function”. Hold on a second. His brain was just mushed and squished by the shockwave of an exploding grenade and his mandible. He’s dead. No amount of medical technology can rebuild him. He doesn’t have any brain function left! But no, they had to revive him so he could be the bad guy.
Finally, there’s the premise that these rich people living on Elysium are arseholes who don’t care about the rest of humanity. This doesn’t make sense. I’m sure there are some people who are rich and are arseholes who don’t want to share their wealth with the rest of humanity. But, similarly, there are poor people who are arseholes too. Being a nasty human being is not exclusive to ownership of a Bugatti space shuttle. Plenty of rich people donate their time and money for worthy causes. In any event, most of the people on Earth only want to have their diseases cured so they can at least be comfortable. While there’s no Medicare or whatever, everything can be cured by having a quick spin within a magical healing scanner and it’s all done. All you need is power, which is pretty cheap. It honestly can’t be that hard to just stick some on Earth! Then you wouldn’t need to shoot down unarmed civilian ships trying to desperately get medical attention in space.
I think that Elysium, as an allegory for humans being nasty to each other does well, but because the world that it builds makes sense only on the surface, it really spoils the illusion. There’s too many “wait, really?” moments in the movie. However, The Boss loved it and thought it was the best movie to come out this year. Me? I thought it was an enjoyable science fiction action movie which worked really well as long as you left your thinking cap at home.
A passable scifi/action movie with a dumb plot and silly premise. However, it does have some great vehicle and technology designs.
Should I watch this?
Yes, as long as you won’t pay attention to anything apart from the gunfire and action. The background material and world setup doesn’t make any sense.