Thursday, August 29, 2013

Elysium Review

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In this movie, society on earth has been reduced to poverty and ruin; only the very rich get to escape to an artificial sanctuary set up in space called ‘Elysium’ with mansions, lakes and lawns. We are introduced to the main character Max (played by Matt Damon), as a young boy in an orphanage. He grows up to be quite a criminal – stealing cars and other petty crimes… till he is caught and put on parole. He tries to turn his life around (while still on parole), getting a job and staying as low as he can.

Security has been taken over by robots, acting as no nonsense police and parole officers: this takes away the humanity of things and becomes automated with no ‘feeling’. Everything that is considered out of behavior is considered an offence, which is how Max gets his arm broken by a police robot when he does not answer in a ‘proper’ way, sending him to his parole officer The parole officers have been programmed with acute sensitivity, responding to Max smartass answers with “Are you being sarcastic and/or abusive?”. Although funny, I can imagine it to be extremely frustrating.

His broken arm sends him to the hospital, where he meets his childhood crush. This spurs his motivation to live a proper life, only to have it disrupted when he is back at work. Max’s working conditions (at a factory which produces parts for the robots) is appalling and there is no sympathy. Due to a freak accident, he gets blasted with radiation and has only 5 days to live. This incident spurs Max’s motivation to want to get to Elysium to cure himself of the radiation.

On Elysium, each house has pod like machines which can cure all disease and even alter appearance (instant painless plastic surgery anyone?). Getting to Elysium is expensive and with no guarantee that you can survive: anyone from earth (basically the poor majority) trying land on Elysium is met with cruel brute force. Secretary Delacourt (played by Jodie Foster) is the draconian ice queen in charge of security who spares no effort in keeping ‘illegals’ out.

She even hires a ruthless mercenary to do her bidding of eliminating the ‘illegals’ (e.g. sending missiles to totally destroy the ships trying to make their way to Elysium). Her draconian ways are not popular with the rest of the government, who find her methods too cruel and extreme. So they fire the ruthless mercenary and try to discredit her. This motivates Secretary Delacourt to stage a coup with the boss of Max’s factory (who is desperate for funds). Secretary Delacourt tells him to create a program that will overwrite the current system and elect her as the new president instead.


Meanwhile, back on earth Max resolves to get that ticket to Elysium, which essentially means going through a horrendous surgery to affix a metal exo-skeletal structure to aid him in the plan to steal data (from the brain) of a rich person and use that information for his benefit. He approaches Spider (who is the one that attempts to smuggle people to Elysium provided they have the money). Spider proposes a plan to Max, to steal data (e.g. bank account details etc…) from one of the rich who visit earth. Max targets his boss as he wants revenge.

Max survives the surgery and gets a team together to prepare the heist, which ends up with dead team mates and ex-boss; having to run away from the mercenary (re-hired by Secretary Delacourt) and his mean team with the stolen data in his head. It turns out that the data he had stolen is corrupted and to retrieve the data would result in his death. What ensues is Max’s struggle to get to Elysium, save his childhood crush and her daughter and his ultimate sacrifice.

The storyline is simple and the ending quite expected, but the action and the detail is entertaining and immaculate enough: a blown off face getting reconstructed back within seconds and the showing of the face getting blown off in a somewhat slow motion are some of the examples. Jodie Foster’s Secretary Delacourt character although draconian and extreme in her ways, seems to be a little too innocent, trusting the ruthless mercenary a tad too much (or rather naively believing that he is always under her control).

Overall, a reasonably good movie (especially if you like Matt Damon and Jodie Foster) with a simply storyline and lots of action scenes.

Rating: 3.5/5


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