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Please, Hollywood, enough with the dystopian sci-fi flicks!
This year, we’ve been inundated with action thrillers that are set in an unhappy future — “Pacific Rim,” “After Earth,” and the latest, “Elysium.”
Yes, special effects have advanced to the point where they can devise amazing-looking worlds. Which, as far as I can tell, is the whole point of making these films.
The run-down, bleak Earth in “Elysium” is very Third-World-gone-Road-Warrior, and the space station of the title gleams with slick sterility. All quite cool.
But someone forgot to flesh out an actual story. Whoops.
As he did with his much-revered “District 9,” writer-director Neil Blomkamp infuses “Elysium” with political ideas. Here, it’s the 1 percent versus the 99 percent. Oh, and the issue of immigration. And health care. And ... well, let’s just say he doesn’t stint on having the movie echo today’s most vexing concerns.
The problem is, he presents those notions and then pretty much drops them. He becomes mono-focused instead on fight scenes. The vast majority of “Elysium” is Matt Damon being pummeled or pummeling someone else — or being shot at or shooting someone else.
Usually, that someone else is Sharlto Copley (who also starred in “District 9”). He’s a mercenary hired by a rich villainess — played by Jodie Foster in one of the least fascinating Jodie Foster performances ever — to take care of pesky Earthlings. The latest victim is Damon, who wants to fly to Elysium so he can be cured of his radiation poisoning. It’s Copley’s job to stop him.
It feels as though at least 2/3 of the movie is Damon and Copley having at it — with the occasional cohort or bystander being shot or exploded. (When did it become necessary to provide a sick “splat” sound effect when someone’s head is blown off?)
During all this, no plot turns are taken, no surprises introduced. It’s just fight, run, shoot, repeat.
One thing I do like about Blomkamp is how he casts his films. They are truly multicultural enterprises. Next time, though, it would be wonderful if he could give them something more interesting to do.
What did you think of “Elysium”?