In the year of 2154 Earth is overpopulated and ridden with poverty. The rich have left to live on a space station called Elysium. Back on Earth, Max (Matt Damon) finds himself in circumstances that force him to agree to be a part of a dangerous mission, as a way of getting to Elysium.
The writer/director Neill Blomkamp delivers a gritty and grim movie, not unlike his debut District 9. Elysium is a very immersing experience from the very first scenes, especially because of the striking environments, and a no less striking difference between the dire state of things on Earth and the picture perfect paradise on Elysium. There are plenty of spectacular space shots of both Earth and Elysium to feast your eyes on. The technological side of the movie is also one of the highlights, from police droids to the state-of-the-art medical pods.
Matt Damon is a strong and likable lead as Max. A contrast to the rest of the movie and some of the more poignant moments are the several flashbacks with Max and Frey, his childhood friend. Diego Luna as Julio and Wagner Moura as Spider are memorable supporting characters, and so is Alice Braga as Frey. Jody Foster’s performance as Secretary Delacourt, who is in charge of the security on Elysium, feels a bit stiff at times. One performance that probably manages best to convey the attitude of Elysium’s inhabitants towards Earth is William Fichtner’s, as John Carlyle, the CEO of Armadyne (the company that built Elysium). Possibly the most memorable performance is Sharlto Copley’s, as Kruger, Delacourt’s agent on Earth – he may well be one of the scariest characters to appear on the big screen this year.