Heaven is a place off Earth for the healthy, wealthy 1% in
Elysium, and all the wretched 99% can do in their
dusty slums is gaze adoringly at the glittering habitat in
orbit, out of reach.
Among the have-nots in the year 2154 is shaven-headed Max
(Damon), a car thief trying to go straight despite his
neighbourhood, who has no choice but to turn cyborg after a
dose of radiation in his job gives him five days to live.
His only hope for survival is treatment in one of the CT
scanner-type machines that keep the citizens of Elysium above
in perfect health. But to gain access involves stealing
information in a dangerous mission that turns Max into an
unlikely freedom fighter.
Writer-director Blomkamp made a pointed critique about
apartheid and its aftermath in his native South Africa in
District 9 (2009), which also starred Copley and was
made with the mentoring and millions of Sir Peter Jackson.
The success of that sci-fi parable allows for this larger,
more expensive canvas and star names, where poor, mostly
ethnic, humans, not aliens, are the ones segregated to life
on Earth as one big refugee camp.
However, the overall social themes and dramatic tones of
District 9 are replicated too closely for comfort in
Starring: Matt Damon (Behind the Candelabra),
Jodie Foster (Carnage), Sharlto Copley (The
Director: Neill Blomkamp (District 9).
Screening: Reading Cinemas Queenstown
3 stars (out of five)