If you’re thinking that extremely versatile Matt Damon bringing another action film, but this time in a cool futuristic setting with a utopia-like residential spacestation all sounds like a great premise for a film you’d be completely right. If you’re thinking it actually makes a good film, in this case, you’d be wrong.
Sadly it seems like the film’s producers either forgot about these assets or simply thought they were enough and stopped trying with the rest. Damon’s character Max, is a hard working, rehabilitated criminal who lives in one of Earth’s slums, some bad things happen to him and the only way to fix it is for him to break into the home of the privileged – the luxury space outpost, Elysium. As things aren’t going his way, desperate measure are taken and action ensues. If you think that’s a blunt summary, then you’ll think it’s a blunt film – and that’s the issue.
With action movies you don’t mind if the story is a bit weak as long as you sympathise with the main character and the scenes are tense. This ‘paint by numbers’ lead-up to action leaves you distanced from the characters and not really caring if they survive. An example of this, Max finds a love interest in a hospital, instead of showing their relationship build, the Director decides the two already know each other from childhood and that they’ll meet one more time, briefly, before she goes on to tick the film’s ‘helpless female to give the hero a cause’ box.
At least we have the action scenes, or do we? If you’re directing a fight scene you might ask your actors to train for months on end, raising their fitness and perfecting the routine for maximum reality and effect. Though, an alternative would be to get the fight scenes nearly ready and treat them post-production with a lovely ‘shaky camera’ effect. The plus side is that the scenes look very lively and give the feeling of chaos, the down side is that the viewer can’t see anything useful. Quite a few directors take the latter approach but this case is quite odd as we know Jason Bourne, I mean, Matt Damon is so handy with his fists on screen.
If you look through the blurred screen, there are a few positives to be found, Jodie Foster plays the ambitious governer of Elysium, and delivers the character with an ice cold edge. Also, Sharlto Copley (that guy from District 9) is an animalistic mercinary and though he’s a bit one dimensional he’s still good fun.
An okay watch when in the mood for some mindless action but you may find yourself scrolling Facebook or Twitter at the same time.
See the movie’s trailer here
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