Thursday, 14 January 2016

My Film Reviews - Elysium

Elysium is the sort of film that appeals to me. Trailed as a bit sci-fi, but also action, it was one I have been wanting to watch with anticipation.

The movie stars Matt Damon, who I like in some things, but not others. Sometimes he can be a bit much for me, a bit full of himself, but that said I do like him in the Oceans films, and I do like him as Bourne, so was optimistic. The other big star in this is Jodie Foster. Whether you are a fan of hers or not, she is a great actress.

The story is set in the future, 2154, when the world has become a very different place. As is the norm in these sort of films, the future doesn't appear rosy and it seems a very unpleasant place indeed. Damon plays a character called Max, who has had a troubled past in and out of trouble with the law and as a result has no choice but to live in a ruined LA, with no money and a horrible and dangerous manual job.

Max gets injured when he is a bit cheeky to the robot police, and meets his childhood sweetheart Frey who is now a doctor at the hospital. Returning to work an accident leaves him poisoned by radiation and he is given just 5 days to live. I warn you now, this film is brutal - no empathy is given for the suffering of those left on the planet and Max's boss makes comment on leaving no mess on the blanket when he is laid out dying after the accident.

Elysium by contrast, is a perfect haven, with no illness. Foster plays Secretary of Defence, Jessica Delacourt, who doesn't hesitate but to have anyone who tries to get onto Elysium illegally dealt with. She summons sleeper agent Kruger to destroy them, and he willingly does so.

Max, knowing Elysium is his only hope of survival, determines to go back to his criminal associate Spider in order to find a way to get there. Spider assigns his an impossible task, taking advantage of his desperation. Also realising that Max is telling the truth, he arranges for him to be mechanised to make him stronger. Surgery sees him wake with robot parts, and an implant in his head to allow him to carry out the task of stealing data from his previous CEO Carlyle, he that showed such compassion! The mission is successful, but Kruger is assigned by Delacourt to stop him, and mercilessly hunts him down.

Max is the only survivor, and waits outside the hospital to find Frey. She helps him heal his injuries, but Kruger finds her and takes her and her terminally ill child. Max and spider plot how to use the data now inside his head, and work out a plan. Max then hands himself to Kruger, not realising at first that Frey has been taken.

Kruger takes them to Elysium, but a fight results in a grenade going off in his face. Its a bit gruesome but once on Elysium, he is put in a med bay and his face is reconstructed. He then too becomes more robotised, and goes after Max, killing Delacourt on the way. Max and Kruger fight to the death, with Max winning.

Ultimately Max and Spider determine the only way how to save Frey and all those on earth is to retrieve the data held in Max's head, stolen from Carlyle, and make them legal. Max realises that he must sacrifice himself and speaks to Frey where she is waiting by a med bay for her daughter to be cured from leukaemia. Treatment cannot be provided, until Max has given the instruction, but once he has he will die. He says what his last words to her and pushes the button. The machine does its stuff, and her daughter is cured. Ships are sent to earth to help heal the suffering there.

Now please don't think this is particularly sad, as the toughness of Max prevents this from being overly emotional, and he has only just met Frey again since childhood. It is however a gritty, action packed sci-fi tale. I personally thought it was brilliant and well worth a watch, but there are issues to overcome.

To start with you can really tell it's from the same guy who was responsible for District 9 - the parts on Earth look identical! Foster's accent is extremely odd and its a bit distracting.  Her role isn't really developed - she is just the hard bitch who makes horrible decisions and in my opinion they should have explored that further. Likewise, although the film is called Elysium, the film doesn't say much about the place itself. Other than the med bays and the advances in technology, you are left a bit in the dark on the details. The characters aren't given much depth at all, which is fine if you just want a high action sci-fi flick, but not so much if you want a classic. It's not a classic, but it is enjoyable. I would only give this a 5 out of 10, and that's for the effects and for Damon himself. Worth a watch if this is your genre, but avoid if not.

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