Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Neill Blomkamp|
|Written by||Neill Blomkamp|
|Music by||Ryan Amon|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Box office||$286.1 million|
Elysium is a 2013 American science fiction action thriller film written and directed by Neill Blomkamp. It stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Alice Braga and Sharlto Copley. The film takes place on both a ravaged Earth, and a luxurious space habitat (Stanford torus design) called Elysium. It explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, health care, exploitation, the justice system, and social class issues. The film was released on August 9, 2013, in both conventional and IMAX Digital theaters. It was a commercial success and received generally positive reviews from critics, even though many considered it a disappointment after Blomkamp's first film District 9.
In 2154, Earth is overpopulated and polluted. Most of the earth's citizens live in poverty, on the edge of starvation, and with little technology and medical care. The rich and powerful live on Elysium — a gigantic, terraformed space habitat located in Earth's orbit. Elysium is technologically advanced; such technology includes Med-Bays: medical machines that can cure all diseases, reverse the aging process and regenerate new body parts. A long-running feud exists between the wealthy residents of Elysium and the citizens of Earth, who want Elysian technology to cure their medical ailments.
Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), a former car thief on parole lives in the ruins of Los Angeles, and works at an assembly line for Armadyne Corp, a company run by John Carlyle (William Fichtner), who originally designed Elysium, and now supplies its weaponry as well as the robots that police Earth. During an industrial accident at the factory, Max is trapped in a chamber and is hit by a lethal dose of radiation. After being rescued he is informed that he has five days to live before succumbing to radiation poisoning. Desperate for a cure, he and his friend Julio (Diego Luna) seek help from a human smuggler named Spider (Wagner Moura) to get him to Elysium; his only chance for survival is using a Med-Bay.
Meanwhile, when a trio of ships full of illegal immigrants from Earth attempts to reach Elysium and its Med-Bays, Elysian Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster) orders a sleeper agent, Kruger (Sharlto Copley), to destroy the shuttles. While two of the shuttles are shot down in space, killing everyone on board, the third shuttle makes it but once on Elysium, everyone on board is either killed or arrested and deported. Elysian President Patel (Faran Tahir) reprimands her for her immoral and unsubtle methods, and threatens to fire her unless she tones down her actions. Regarded as a loose cannon, Kruger is dismissed from service. Delacourt, vowing to protect Elysium and her own power, bargains with John Carlyle to create a program that can override Elysium's computer core to give her the Presidency. Carlyle stores the reboot program in his brain for transport to Elysium and encrypts it with a lethal protection program.
Spider agrees to get Max to Elysium if he can steal financial information from Carlyle. To assist him, Spider's men surgically attach a powered exoskeleton to Max. With Julio and a team of Spider's men, Max shoots down Carlyle's ship, and in the ensuing firefight with Carlyle's security droids, Carlyle is fatally wounded. Max downloads the program to his suit's neural implant, but realizes that the encryption makes it unusable. Alerted to the data theft by Carlyle's medical implant, Delacourt secretly reinstates Kruger and deploys him to recover the program. In the ensuing firefight, Julio is killed, and Max is wounded. He reaches out to his childhood friend Frey (Alice Braga), now a nurse, whose daughter Matilda has leukemia. Frey begs Max to take Matilda to Elysium to be cured, but Max refuses in order to protect them. Soon after Max leaves, Kruger arrives and takes Frey and Matilda prisoner aboard his ship, while his drones hunt for Max. Delacourt orders an airspace lockdown over Los Angeles to buy enough time to recover Carlyle's program.
Max delivers the program to Spider, who discovers that the program can be used to make all Earth residents Elysian citizens. However, because the lockdown makes it impossible to leave Earth, Max bargains with Kruger to be taken to Elysium, not knowing that Kruger has already found out that Frey assisted Max and is holding her and Matilda hostage on the ship. As Kruger's ship leaves Earth, Spider and his men take advantage of the lockdown lift and also board a ship towards Elysium. Meanwhile, in Kruger's ship, a fight ensues and Kruger is grievously wounded by a grenade blast, which also disables the ship's engines. After Kruger's ship crashes on Elysium, Max, Frey and Matilda are arrested and taken to Delacourt, who orders the download of the program, despite the fact that it will kill Max.
After being restored in a Med-Bay by his lackeys Drake and Crowe, a defiant Kruger kills Delacourt after she chastises him for his recklessness. On Kruger's orders, Drake and Crowe exterminate the Elysian political officers in order to seize control for themselves. Meanwhile, having escaped his confinement, Max, knowing that Med-Bays only work for Elysian citizens, resolves to use Carlyle's program to give everyone on Earth Elysian citizenship. He rescues Frey and Matilda, killing Drake and Crowe on the way. He then meets Spider and heads for Elysium's core but is ambushed by Kruger, now equipped with a military-grade exoskeleton far superior to Max's. In the ensuing fight, Max manages to rip out Kruger's neural implant, rendering his suit immobile. However, Kruger tethers himself to Max's suit and arms a grenade with the intent of killing them both. Max rips off the tether and hurls Kruger over a ledge to his death.
Spider and Max reach Elysium's computer core, where Spider realizes that the program's activation will kill Max. Max personally activates the program, having spoken a last time with Frey via radio. As Max dies, Elysium's computer core reboots and registers every Earth resident as an Elysian citizen. President Patel arrives with security guards but the robots refuse to arrest Spider, whom they now recognize as a citizen. Matilda is cured by a Med-Bay and Elysium's computer dispatches a huge fleet of medical ships to begin treatment of the citizens of Earth.
- Matt Damon as Max Da Costa
- Maxwell Perry Cotton as young Max
- Jodie Foster as Defense Secretary Delacourt
- Alice Braga as Frey Santiago
- Valentina Giros as young Frey
- Sharlto Copley as Agent C.M. Kruger
- Diego Luna as Julio
- Wagner Moura as Spider
- William Fichtner as John Carlyle
- Brandon Auret as Drake
- Josh Blacker as Crowe
- Faran Tahir as President Patel
- Emma Tremblay as Matilda Santiago
- Jose Pablo Cantillo as Sandro
- Adrian Holmes as Manuel
- Michael Mando as Rico
- Carly Pope, Ona Grauer and Michael Shanks as CCB agents
Elysium was produced by Bill Block, Neill Blomkamp and Simon Kinberg, and written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, the director and co-writer of District 9 (2009). It reunites Blomkamp with some of his District 9 crew, such as editor Julian Clarke, production designer Philip Ivey, cinematographer Trent Opaloch, and actor Sharlto Copley, playing one of the film's antagonists. Elysium is a co-production of Media Rights Capital and TriStar Pictures. Although the film's story is set in 2154, Blomkamp has stated that it is a comment on the contemporary human condition. "Everybody wants to ask me lately about my predictions for the future," the director has said, "No, no, no. This isn't science fiction. This is today. This is now." In January 2011, independent studio Media Rights Capital met with major studios to distribute Elysium, and Blomkamp shared art designs of his proposed science fiction film. The art designs won over the executives at Sony Pictures, who bought the film after making a more attractive offer than the other studios. With a production budget of $115 million, production began in July 2011. The film's Earth-bound scenes were shot in a dump in the poor Iztapalapa district on the outskirts of Mexico City, while the scenes for Elysium were shot in Vancouver and the wealthy Huixquilucan-Interlomas suburbs of Mexico City. Matt Damon shaved his head for the role of Max. The main role was first offered to Watkin Tudor Jones (aka Ninja), a South African rapper, who despite being a fan of District 9 (he has a D9 tattoo on his inner lip) did not take the role. The role was then offered to rapper Eminem, but he wanted the film to be shot in Detroit. That was not an option for the two studios, so Blomkamp moved on to Damon as his next choice. Futuristic designs were executed by Philip Ivey after long periods of researching and studying older science fiction films. Ivey has continuously cited Syd Mead as a substantial influence for the film. Weta Workshop created the exosuits for Damon and Copley's characters, while the complicated visual effects were handled primarily by Image Engine (who also collaborated on District 9) with additional work by Whiskytree, MPC, The Embassy and Industrial Light and Magic. Re-shoots took place through October 2012. The film's music score was composed by newcomer Ryan Amon and recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the Philharmonia Orchestra. The soundtrack was released on August 6, 2013.
When the film was first announced, Sony intended to release it in late 2012. It later set an official release date for March 8, 2013, before moving one week earlier to prevent competing against Oz the Great and Powerful. In October 2012, Sony then announced they had pushed back the release date to August 9, 2013. In April 2013, Sony also announced that the film would be specifically reformatted for IMAX theaters. By that time, two theatrical trailers and a TV spot had already been showcased. On December 17, 2013, Elysium was released on DVD and Blu-ray discs in Region 1.
Elysium grossed $93.1 million in the domestic box office and $193 million internationally for a worldwide total of $286 million. The film opened on August 9, 2013 and grossed $11,088,228 on its opening day, ranking #1. It proceeded to rank #1 for the weekend, grossing $29,807,393.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 68% approval rating with an average rating of 6.5/10 based on 229 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "After the heady sci-fi thrills of District 9, Elysium is a bit of a comedown for director Neill Blomkamp, but on its own terms, it delivers just often enough to satisfy." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 61 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
In February 2015, while promoting his newest film, Chappie, director Neil Blomkamp expressed some regrets regarding Elysium, commenting: "I feel like I fucked it up, I feel like ultimately the story is not the right story.. I still think the satirical idea of a ring, filled with rich people, hovering above the impoverished Earth, is an awesome idea. I love it so much, I almost want to go back and do it correctly. But I just think the script wasn’t… I just didn’t make a good enough film is ultimately what it is. I feel like I executed all of the stuff that could be executed, like costume and set design and special effects very well. But, ultimately, it was all resting on a somewhat not totally formed skeletal system, so the script just wasn’t there; the story wasn’t fully there."
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- Elysium at the Internet Movie Database
- Elysium at the TCM Movie Database
- Elysium at Box Office Mojo
- Elysium at Rotten Tomatoes
- Elysium at Metacritic