Stop the world, I want to get off: Elysium & Europa Report
Now, it’s very tempting and all too easy to take the rather obvious political allegory in Neill Blomkamp’s new sci-fi actioner Elysium and run with it. But I am going to take the high road. I’m not going to shoot you a Palinesque wink as I tell you the year is 2154, and the human race is reduced to two classes: the super-rich, who have ensconced themselves in a glorified gated community called Elysium (a gargantuan bio-domed space station in Earth’s orbit) and, well, the rest of humanity, who have been ghettoized back on Earth, which has fallen into complete ecological and economic ruin. Oh, the Earth rabble try to infiltrate the 1 per-centers’ big wheel in the sky via their “illegal” shuttlecrafts (oh how they try!) but the occasional shiploads lucky enough make it past Elysium’s formidable Star Wars missile defense system and actually land are quickly captured by police droids and deported back to Earth (please note I’m still keeping a straight face). Aw, screw it. I reveled in the political allegory. I loved, loved LOVED it!
I especially reveled in Jodie Foster’s turn as Elysium’s icy Secretary Delacourt, who continually usurps the President’s ineffectual requests to take it down a notch on these strident Homeland Security measures (and if she didn’t base her characterization on Governor Jan Brewer, then Stephen Colbert actually is a conservative pundit). Meanwhile, back in the States, we are introduced to Max (Matt Damon), an ex-con who works at a dreary droid manufacturing plant in L.A. The Los Angeles of 2154 resembles a giant favela (it makes the Blade Runner rendition look downright Utopian). Nearly everyone speaks Spanish (now settle…). Those lucky enough to have a steady job are still mercilessly exploited by their employers (I said…settle). While there are hospitals, they are understaffed and ill-equipped to treat catastrophic illnesses (whereas on Elysium, every mansion contains some kind of all-in-one medical appliance that appears to cure everything from a paper cut to terminal cancer via instantaneous cellular regeneration).