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Elysium

 ½

USA 2013
Starts August 15, 2013

Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Writing credits: Neill Blomkamp
Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner
Length: 109 minutes

ElysiumIn 2154, the space station “Elysium” is the ultimate gated community for the very rich. Here the citizens of Elysium have everything the inhabitants of Earth can only dream of: Clean air and water, good food, beautiful villas with swimming pools and medical technology to cure almost everything. As a citizen of Earth, Max (Damon) has almost no chance to get to Elysium. He can count himself “lucky” to have a job at a factory where profit is much more important than the health and safety of the workers. One day he is exposed to a high dose of radiation at work and sent home with a bottle of pills and five days left to live. Desperate, Max decides to find a way to fly to Elysium, where he can be healed, and to take his friend Frey (Braga) and her terminally ill little daughter with him. Spider (Moura), a people smuggler, offers Max a deal: a flight to the space station in exchange for some extremely valuable data. To steal the data, Max must first kidnap Carlyle (Fichtner), a well-guarded CEO, and then download the data from Carlyle’s brain. Whoever can access the data is in a position to manipulate the Elysian computer system.

(The following passage contains spoilers.)

Like Neill Blomkamp’s first feature film District 9, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, Elysium is a sci-fi action movie with a political message. Elysium shows a world where only two classes of people exist: those who are rich enough to live on Elysium and those who aren’t. There are enough similarities between the world of the movie and the world we’re living in to raise the question if something like the global two-class society in Elysium could be an end result of growing social inequality in the world of today. While it would be unfair to expect solutions for real-life problems from a sci-fi movie, I find the simplistic approach in Elysium quite disappointing: The rich Elysians are portrayed as the bad guys, while the people from Earth are the good guys, and the problems are solved by making everyone a citizen of Elysium.

If you can ignore this flaw of the movie as well as a few plot holes and not so credible characters, what remains is an entertaining sci-fi action film with fascinating visuals, a fitting score and great action scenes. ()

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