Out of the exquisite archives of Greek poet/bard Homer’s (approximately, 800 BC-701BC ) “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” and Roman poet, Virgil’s (70 BC-19 BC) “Aenied” sprung the myth of the Elysium Fields; a Shangri-La for the gifted, righteous souls, blessed dead: heroes, poets, philosophers living for eternity in blissful brilliance, ruled by the just and the wise, not the wicked.
“Elysium” takes place in 2154, and is a space satellite shielding the financially elite, those capable of purchasing “pie in the sky”; clean, stratospherically wealthy (most likely Republicans), where every palatial home comes equipped with a medical pod, effectively curing disease and imperfection; living forever in benign, bland, vanilla homogeneity. Governed by a misanthropic few, controlling their air rights by “Droning” interlopers; anesthetized to the spillage, carnage of disreputable lives, unworthy of “Elysium”; Jodi Foster gives a Machiavellian performance as “Delacourt” , the Secretary of Defense who grants admission to prospective Elysium inhabitants and manically dominates what transpires on robotically- regulated earth.
In Los Angeles, the world’s destitute nucleus and harbinger of “huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, reminiscent, magnifying the squalor of Brazil’s favelas, resides “Max” a reformed thief, poisoned on his factory job, with five days to live, commits to an elaborate ruse of espionage, that if successful, will garnish a lifesaving trip to Elysium. Matt Damon is superbly sublime as Max; he is “Everyman”; tattooed, shorn head, a simple soul with a romantic streak and a wry sense of humor; Damon’s realistic, genuinely insightful depiction of an ordinary man in the direst circumstances, is a remarkable, extraordinary feat.
Director Neill Blomkamp (wildly, weirdly, wonderful 2009, “District 9”) through proficient, thought-inspiring metaphors poses questions, equations begging for solutions; herein harbors the prodigious, probing gestation of a frightful future, mimicking “man’s inhumanity to man”.