Hello and welcome to a new week of quick movie reviews here on TVE. This week I am trying out a new idea here, and starting my first theme week. This week’s theme is Matt Damon. I’ve been a fan of his work since the early days of Good Will Hunting and Rounders (I know he did stuff before that, but this was my general introduction to him) and watched his gradual progression from a preppy smart alec college kid to a badass secret agent and everything else in between. We start off with the most recent movie of his that I have seen; 2013’s Elysium.
Director: Neill Blomkamp
The catastrophic dystopian future created by Global Warming has now become a genre of its own. Just a few days ago here on TVE we looked at the very good Snowpiercer, which is a prime example of the genre, and today we consider Elysium. In this movie Matt Damon plays a reformed thief named (Not Mad) Max who works at a lowly factory job on the planet Earth (Hey, I live there too! Neato.) which thanks to—-dun dun dun—-Global Warming, has become one giant ghetto. If you have a big enough bank account though, you can escape this planetary slum and live on the opulent space station of Elysium, which has fine architecture, admirable landscaping, and state of the art medical care so advanced it can basically bring you back from the dead, as long you aren’t one of those poor scummy people on that filthy sewer called earth.
As said though, Max does in fact live on earth, and has little hope of ever getting out, so when a factory accident exposes him to one of those very convenient cinematic diseases that will kill you within a very short period of time, but up until the very last moment, will leave you otherwise unaffected in any meaningful way (except maybe the occasional cough), he finds himself completely helpless. At this point forces conspire, as they are want to do, for Not Mad Max to dawn a badass (non Iron) bionic suit that gives him super duper butt kicking powers so he can become the much needed one man army to battle it out with the forces of Jodie Foster (who is the President of Elysium here, doing some fine work…) and reclaim equality for all citizens. Yeah, it sounds a little hokey and whatnot, but I found I was able to groove pretty steadily to this movie’s madness. Matt Damon acts like Matt Damon, just borrowing Robert Downey Jr.’s suit (or at least an early beta version of it) for a little outer space romp. There’s two ways movies like this can go. You can get dark and serious like Snowpiercer, which was awesome, or go full on bonkers like Gaurdians of the Galaxy, which was also awesome. This movie falls directly in the middle of those two approaches, and in my humble opinion, is merely alright.