After hitting a home run with his debut picture, District 9, Neill Blomkamp hits the dreaded sophomore slump with this follow up Elysium. Matt Damon (Max) plays an average man in Los Angeles, year 2154. The earth has been wrecked by overcrowding and pollution. The uber-rich are able to leave the Earth and live in a paradisal space station, Elysium, orbiting the planet. Back on earth, Blomkamp draws parallels to modern society ills: police brutally, high unemployment, lack of health care, etc. Jodie Foster (Delacourt) is the Secretary of Defense on Elysium and it falls under her domain to get the less desirables for access the space station in search for a better life. Sharlto Copley (Kruger) is the psychopathic bad guy hired by Foster, to help her achieve her goals.
One of the many weaknesses of the movie is the lack of empathy for the main characters, We meet Max and his childhood BFF, Frey in flashbacks and see a tiny window of their bond. We never see the relationship between Max and Frey as adults, so there is no investment as to what happens to them. Matt Daman is his usual affable self but is given very little to work with. Jodie Foster is one of today’s best actors but in Elysium, she comes across as very stiff and mannered. Sharlto Copley is clearly miscast as the bad guy. As great as it is to see a diverse group actors on the screen, the dueling accents: South African, Mexican, Brazilian and whatever the hell Jodie was doing was very distracting.
Neill Blomkamp is an interesting director and I hope he returns to form with his next feature film.