At the age of 33, writer/director Neill Blomkamp has achieved what many young filmmakers could only hope to achieve after 33 years in the business. Four years ago he made the leap from short films to the Best Picture Oscar-nominated epic, District 9. With a budget of $30 million, Blomkamp blew both critics and fans away with an extraterrestrial sci-fi thriller that was so visually slick it looked like it cost twice the money.
With an Oscar nod under his belt, the pressure and expectation (not to mention budget) have been exuberantly upped for Blomkamp's second offering, Elysium. Add to that the star power of Matt Damon (who came on board in the early stages of pre-production) and his credits in writing, and the South African-Canadian director has set the bar high.
Blomkamp does not disappoint. Elysium is a really great movie that tells a well-thought-out story and is packed with excellent action, superb images and fantastic performances from its lead cast. Blomkamp asserts his style with aplomb in Elysium, and the sheer scale of this movie is at times jaw-dropping.
Set in 2154, Earth has become a dirty, overpopulated wasteland, rampant with poverty, disease and crime. Floating high above its derelict surface is Elysium, a heavenly space station where the wealthy elite reside in an utter utopia. No sickness, no ageing, no death - if anything bad does happen to you, each house is equipped with a Medi-Bed that can cure any ailment.
Elysium is fully visible, but completely unattainable to the wretched masses on Earth, which is now policed by robots, who, unsurprisingly, have a severe lack of compassion for the locals. Damon plays Max, an ex-con trying to get clean and saving every pay cheque so that he can one day buy a flight to Elysium and live there with his childhood sweetheart. However, a rapid chain of events results in Max needing to get to his Holy Grail as soon as he can.
Blomkamp has once again cast Sharlto Copley (so great as Wikus Van De Merwe in District 9). This time he plays Kruger, Max's chief antagonist. He is one bad-ass, butt-kicking secret agent and he will not hesitate to blow anything up that gets in his way. Jodie Foster also gives an excellent performance as Delacourt, a rogue military leader with aspirations of becoming the President of Elysium.
This is a definite must-see on the big-screen so that its sleek visuals can be enjoyed in all their triumphant glory. Blomkamp's masterful filmmaking is a treat that brings a story full of passion and vision to life and proves that District 9 was not just a one-off wonder.