There is a great movie here somewhere amongst the mess. A missed opportunity…
District 9 was such a breath of fresh air when it landed back in 2009 and this makes Neill Blomkamp’s overly complicated follow up even more disappointing. While it is not a particularly original concept, the prospect of affluent members of society moving away from Earth to live in a floating paradise should provide plenty of space for biting social satire. When Blomkamp does attempt to go down this road it is mostly successful as he sends up the ludicrous bureaucracy of the law enforcement system perfectly. The problem is this message is lost beneath the sludge of a messy, ill thought out plot.
The big star of District 9 was the then unknown Sharlto Copley and while he makes for a fun antagonist here, he is guilty of overacting at times. Matt Damon is not renowned for playing scuzzy car thieves and he never really looks comfortable as an anti hero and Jodie Foster makes for an unconvincing villain. Wagner Moura (recently praised for his portrayal of Pablo Escobar in the excellent series Narcos) looks more at home however, and some of the movies best moments are shared between Moura and Copley.
Elysium doesn’t really know what it wants to be. Is it high concept sci-fi or a popcorn flick? Gritty satire or explosion filled action film? It ends up hanging somewhere limply in the middle. Certainly one for Matt Damon to forget and hopefully Neill Blomkamp learns from the mistakes he made with Elysium.