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Played By: Matt Damon
- Empowered Badass Normal: Max is a physically fit man but when he's crippled in a radiation accident, his criminal contact grafts an exoskeleton onto his body that makes him able to fight on the level of the powerful police droids.
- Handicapped Badass: He also suffers from radiation poisoning during much of the film, yet still manages to defeat several of the bad guys.
- Hesitant Sacrifice: Throughout the film, Max asserts that he wants to live and make it to Elysium, fearing death whenever it looks bleak for him. At the end this gets subverted when he simply accepts that he has to die to upload the program to make Earth's population into Elysium citizens and kills himself.
- Heroic Sacrifice: To ensure everyone can become a citizen on Elysium, he sacrifices himself to save the day.
- Limited Wardrobe: Because they bolted the exoskeleton to him through his clothes
- Messianic Archetype: Has plenty of parallels to the Christ.
- Reformed Criminal: Max was a former car thief who gave up his illegal life to work on an assembly line and earn the money he needed to make it to Elysium legitimately. When he's infected with radiation poisoning it forces him to do One Last Job for his former boss
- Working-Class Hero: He is seen going to work in a factory as a line worker in the first part of the film.
- Your Days Are Numbered: Due to getting a lethal dose of radiation, he's expected to only live about another five days at most.
Played By: Alice Braga
- Childhood Friend Romance: With Max.
- Damsel in Distress: Becomes one after Kruger traces Max's movements back to her house.
Played By: Emma Tremblay
- Children Are Innocent: Interestingly enough, even Kruger acts somewhat nice towards her, such as when he tells her to close her eyes so she doesn't see him punch Frey during an interrogation.
- Littlest Cancer Patient: She has advanced leukemia, and cannot be cured on Earth due to lacking the medical equipment readily available on Elysium.
Played By: Sharlto Copley
- Amoral Afrikaner: You'd better believe it, boytjie. Though it's not mentioned in dialogue, the accent, the blink-and-you'll-miss-it flag painted on his dropship, and the fact that the song he sings to Frey's daughter is in Afrikaans confirm that he's this.
- Ax-Crazy: Even his own men who are violent thugs fear him if he's in a ticked mood. After his face is blown off, he goes from crazy to megalomaniacal, deciding to take over Elysium.
- Badass Beard: One inspired by South-African troops during the 70's staying out in the bush for months at a time.
- Since Kruger was born in 1970, He would've more than likely have served in the South African Defense Force, and seeing as He's referred as being Ex-Special Forces, He might have served in the 32 Battalion, who were South African Special Forces; meaning that He would've spent time in the bush, like many of the elite members of the 32 Battalion have done. Him having the beard, makes even more sense with his character's background. Also, it says almost all about Blomkamp's opinion on apartheid-era war veterans.
- Bad Boss: While he seems amiable enough with his two henchmen who share his love of violence and disregard of others, he's implied to have killed other henchmen in the past on impulse and the first thing they do when he recovers from a severe injury is holding a gun at his face until he calms down.
- Big Bad: Although he answers to Delacourt he's this for the Earth storyline, being most direct antagonistic force on the planet, while his boss is far removed and as soon as she questions him, immediately kills her and takes over Elysium itself.
- Blood Knight: He always seems to enjoy fighting and killing people.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Kruger make use of the "F" word in practically all of his sentences. Imagine a massive drop of F-Cluster bombs.
- Cool Sword: His signature Katana.
- Corporate Samurai: A particularly nasty example.
- Dragon-in-Chief: To Delacourt, she has no hope of recovering her stolen data without relying on Kruger, even when the Elysium council advises against due to his unstable personality. He even seems to be a massive part of her defense plan for Elysium since he's the one who shoots down the immigrant space ships attempting to enter. As soon as Delacourt attempts to reprimand him for his actions, he kills her to pursue Max himself.
- Empowered Badass Normal: Later gains a suit of power armour to match Max's.
- Even Evil Has Standards: As he's molesting and interrogating Frey, he doesn't want her daughter to view his atrocities. Subverted later, as it turns out that he is perfectly willing to let her die with no remorse.
- Evil Is Hammy: His dialogue seems to chew the scenery a little.
- Faux Affably Evil: The polite demeanour is obviously an act. His tendency to tell people to get their injuries that he just inflicted on them checked out also add to this.
- The Heavy: Delacourt is physically removed from Earth so Krugar does most of the fighting on her behalf. He relentlessly pursues Max throughout the film and acts as the Big Bad in all but name until he kills Delacourt and becomes it proper.
- Karmic Death: Kruger has a tendency love blowing things up. In the end, he gets blown up with a Grenade he intended for him and Max to die with.
- Knife Nut: Kruger sure does love his blades, such as his Katana.
- Obviously Evil: He's already described as committing numerous human rights violations.
- Psycho for Hire: The man Delacourt calls when she wants someone dead.
- The Starscream: Kruger is a violent and untrustworthy man, so him killing Delacourt and taking over Elysium comes as no surprise.
- Verbal Tic: He has a tendency to call Max "boytjie" (pronounced "boy-key", it's Afrikaans slang meaning "little boy").
Played By: Wagner Moura
- Big Good: About the closest thing we have to one in this movie. While he is technically a criminal, he does abandon his original plan of hijacking Carlyle's brain and using the information to steal the latter's money and resources. Instead he uses what Max downloaded from Carlyle to help out all of the citizens on Earth.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Not at the same level as Kruger, but yes, he do swear a lot.
- Genius Cripple: He walks with a limp and has to carry around a walking stick.
- Good Is Not Nice: For all his noble intentions, he still did things like human trafficking and grand theft auto.
- Non-Action Guy: Justified in that he's walking with a limp, and he's got plenty of guys who do the fighting for him, such as Max.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He orders his men to back down from Max, and they comply. He even gives him some Powered Armor to help him with his mission, and later becomes key to helping out everyone on Earth.
Drake and Crowe
Played By: Brandon Aurret (Drake) and Josh Blacker (Crowe)
- Amoral Afrikaner: Like their boss— they've got the same accents and same brutal attitude.
- Badass Normal: They do not have the gadgets of their boss or the strength of Max's exo-suit but still remain major threats.
- Bald of Evil: Crowe. Drake sports a Mohawk.
Played By: Diego Luna
Secretary of Defense Jessica Delacourt
Played By: Jodie Foster
- Big Bad: Until Kruger takes over.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Her reasoning for acting the way she does is to keep the rabble on Earth out of Elysium, no matter how brutal her methods seem. She even warns Patel of this, and when illegals certainly do breach Elysium later, she tries to do an "I told you so" to him.
- Karmic Death: Delacourt is killed by Kruger, the very psycho she hired.
- Non-Action Big Bad: Throughout the entire film, she uses Kruger as her personal attack dog to deal with her dirty work.
- The Starscream: She plans a coup because she feels the current president doesn't have what it takes to lead. Kruger later kills her in order to seize control of Elysium for himself. Karma's a bitch.
- Think of the Children!: Her apparent justification for killing dozens of refugees and her plans to take over Elysium.Delacourt: "Do you have children, President Patel?"
- Too Dumb to Live: She confronts a complete psycho like Kruger without any protection or guards.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: When the shuttle she authorized to land crashes on Elysium thanks to her off-the-books and illegal The Dragon, she doesn't miss a beat in feigning ignorance and blaming the entire incident on the President's more humane policies and then seizing control of the security forces in her capacity as War Secretary. It would have been more impressive if her next act had not been Bullying The Dragon.
Played By: William Fichtner
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Armadyne's profit-driven CEO, who is willing to let his employees die on the job and even assist a coup on his government if it means securing a contract.
- Deadpan Snarker: When Max's group shoot his shuttle down and surround the ship, he responds to the ship's voice system telling him he's unharmed by sarcastically remarking how comforting that is.
- Evil Genius: To Delacourt, for whom he scripts the program to snatch control of Elysium from Patel.
- Jerkass: He shows more concern for a bedsheet being kept clean than a employee dying from radiation poisoning.
Played By: Faran Tahir
- Anti-Villain: While living on Elysium doesn't earn him any points with people on Earth, he's also not actively making their life more difficult either the way Delacourt and Kruger seem to want to do.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In most settings, he'd barely be considered evil at all.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Technically, although he's the least evil of the film's villains, he is still at the top of the tyrannical system.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He specifically chews out Delacourt for shooting down the civilian craft attempting to land on Elysium, and revokes Kruger's military status shortly after said incident.