Do you remember a couple of years ago when a bunch of people banded together and called themselves “Occupy Wall Street” and decided that they were going to take over public parks and turn them into campgrounds? The entire point of that movement sparked the whole 99 percent versus the 1 percent debate prior to the 2012 election. The gist of it was that 1 percent of the population controls most of the wealth and that 99 percent of the people pay for the financial mistakes that the 1 percenters make, a la the 2008 global financial crisis.
Elysium is set in the year 2154 and portrays what some people think the world might look like if we continue down our current economic path. It would appear as though class warfare has completely eliminated the middle class and there are only two classes of people left. The ultra rich and privileged, who have fled Earth for a new, artificial, but pristine space station, Elysium, and the dirt poor, who live in absolute squalor on a tremendously overpopulated planet Earth. Good Will Hunting, aka Matt Damon stars as Max, an ex-convict who was orphaned as a child, did some time in jail, and is now simply trying to claw his way through his meager existence on Earth. Max meets up with Frey (Alice Braga), his childhood friend that he knew from his days as an orphan, who now works as a nurse. Frey is among the working poor and has troubles of her own, a daughter named Matilda that is dying of leukemia.
Elysium was built by the movie version of Haliburton, and is run by a ruthless, evil man (not Dick Cheney), John Carlyle (William Fitchner) that doesn’t mind watching employees die, as long as profits are up. He conspires with Elysium’s Defense Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) to install a reboot in the system that would oust the sitting President of the space station. After being poisoned by radiation, Max (Damon) needs a way to get to Elysium for treatment, so he finds some old ex-convict buddies to help him get there. Delacourt (Foster), however, uses all the technology and means available to keep the 99 percenters away from their precious new home.
All in all, this wasn’t a terribly bad movie. It wasn’t a terribly good movie, either, though. Although the movie is less than two hours long, it felt like longer, which is never a good thing for me. There’s an underlying love story, but not enough of one to consider this a decent date movie. This is an incredibly violent movie with some pretty ugly scenes. I wouldn’t dream of bringing my 14 year old daughter to this movie. I understand that actors will, on occasion, pick and choose movies that fit their political beliefs. The premise of this was a little ridiculous and at first I was frustrated. Then my wife reminded me that my favorite movie begins with, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” That’s when I decided Elysium wasn’t all that bad. If you can just walk into Smitty’s Cinema and appreciate it for the cinematic adventure that it is and forget that it’s based on Matt Damon’s political views.