"They will hunt you to the edge of the Earth for this..."
Elysium is a dystopianScience Fiction film directed by Neill Blomkamp, director of District 9, and starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Wagner Moura, Carly Pope and Alice Braga. It was released on August 9, 2013.In the year 2154, the very wealthy live on Elysium, a Stanford torus high-tech utopian space station watched over by Secretary of Defense Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster) located in orbit around Earth which is free of crime, war, poverty, hunger, and disease, while everyone else lives on the overpopulated, ruined Earth below. The citizens of Elysium live a life of luxury, which includes access to private medical machines offering instant cures, while the citizens of Earth struggle to survive on a daily basis and desperately try escaping the planet (and not trying to escape the planet to live on Elysium, just to break into someone's house to use a medical machine before they are deported back to earth). Those who maintain Elysium will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve their citizens' lifestyle, even destroying ships that attempt to get there.After an industrial accident leaves him with severe radiation poisoning, thirty-six year-old former car-thief-turned-factory-worker Max DaCosta (Matt Damon) has only five days to get to Elysium in order to be cured. Max straps into a powerful exoskeleton and attempts to kidnap a rich businessman (William Fichtner) in order to steal his identity and hijack his way into Elysium. This pits him against Delacourt and her violent secret police forces, led by Kruger (Sharlto Copley).
This film includes examples of:
A Friend in Need: Julio does everything he can to help Max after he's been irradiated, from taking care of him, to unhesitatingly offering him his savings even though they both know it's not enough to get him to Elysium, to joining him on the job he takes for Spider in exchange for help getting to Elysium.
One of the weapons that Max uses is a modified AKM that uses high explosive airburst rounds, each round as powerful as modern-day 40mm grenades. The AKM goes from semi-obsolescent relic to WH40K bolter with a magazine swap.
There's also the remote-triggered explosive shotgun slug, which packed enough explosive power to disable a ship engine. And then we have Kruger's explosive shuriken.
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Kruger's katana. When he stabs Julio, he puts it full length through the man and the ground beneath him with no apparent difficulty. Even with super-strength, we're talking about hard-packed earth.
Kruger and his men have steel reinforced skeletons to facilitate their usage of an exosuit. This helps explains such things as how Kruger is able to overpower Max (albeit only when the latter is distracted) even before getting his own exosuit, why he's seemingly unconcerned about being shot at by 9mm pistol rounds, why he's unharmed by exosuit-powered punches to his unarmored face, and how he can survive a grenade to the face with no brain trauma.
Kruger was born in the 1970s. Medpod technology apparently indefinitely extended his lifespan.
Kruger, Crowe and Drakey operate their own PMC, known as the Oryx Warfare Group. Both Crowe and Drakey have the OWG patch on their gear, and Kruger's ship, the Raven; has an Oryx spray-painted on it.
President Patel, Elysium's board of directors, and Delacourt's unfortunate assistants are repulsed by Delacourt's Establishing Character Moment (which nearly leads to Delacourt losing her job as Defense Secretary). Not that Patel's any more tolerant of undesirables from Earth, but he prefers to simply round them up and deport them.
Artificial Intelligence: In this film robots exist which are bright enough to handle police work and parole duty. Also to completely run Elysium without any human interference (which in the end is the saving grace of those on Earth as no human can interact with the core A.I. to fix what Spyder had done by making Elysium open to everyone via the re-boot, and the only guy who could re-write the code is already dead.
Artistic License - Biology: Max is dying of radiation poisoning, which is why he wanted to go to Elysium in the first place. Radiation poisoning affects cell DNA first and foremost, causing mutations which in turn cause degradation of cellular integrity and morphology, which then gets passed along to the next generation (the mutations in the DNA accumulate and interfere not only with the wrong proteins being produced but with the DNA being read and transcribed at all, meaning lots of cell death in a lot of very nasty and uncomfortable ways). The cells lose their ability to interact with each other, don't do what they should be doing and the tissues of the human body basically come apart at the seams. In short a lethal dose of radiation causes your body to rapidly deteriorate, leading ultimately to death. This would have made it nigh impossible to graft in an exo-suit since max would not have been able to heal after the operation and the tissue, bone and nerves would have been pulled apart around the exo-skeleton under such strain, with necrotic foci and loss of a new generation of healthy cells to take their place... In short: the exo-skeleton really shouldn't have worked unless whatever medication Max was given to "keep him functioning" for five days actually stopped the radiation deterioration to some significant (or very specific) extent in order to keep the suit working. Or in other words: the medication should have kept him alive a lot longer if the exo-skeleton was still working at the end of five days (i.e. being able to use the exo-skeleton shows that Max wasn't dying in the way that radiation poisoning kills you). And following that logic, the only reason is if the drug itself was killing him.
Asshole Victim: Carlyle and Delacourt. The former was picked by Max for exactly that reason.
Autodoc: The medical pods are the closest thing the future has to a Panacea. They can heal every disease known to man (as stated in Armadyne's ARG website), cancer, broken bones, and leukemia. They're so powerful that they can even repair Kruger's face, most of which was blown off with Max's grenade.
Ax-Crazy: Kruger and his crew, who get their kicks from killing. When he finds out that Delacourt's "classified info" is a total system reboot for Elysium, he decides to get the data himself to turn Elysium into his own twisted playground.
Badass Normal: Drakey and Crowe, Kruger's henchmen, who despite lacking exosuits, hold their own against Max and others, with Drakey single-handedly taking out the CCB building and forcing an evacuation.
Bad Boss: Max's foreman docks him a half-day for coming in late and wanting to work with a bum hand, which is somewhat reasonable but still helps to establish him as a jerk. Later on, he forces Max to walk into a radiation chamber which had already been primed (but not activated) to clear a door jam, leading to Max's irradiation when the door slams shut once the jam is cleared. At least he clearly feels bad about this, but he nevertheless forced Max into an extremely unsafe situation. However, the foreman isn't nearly as bad as Carlyle, who is more concerned about Max ruining the bedding in the medical bay than his condition, and even tells his foreman to cover his mouth so they won't breathe the same air.
Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: This is what Delacourt keeps Kruger around for, to the dismay of President Patel. Then, when he gets to the Elysium near the end, Kruger kills Delacourt.
Bald of Awesome: Max DaCosta has a completely shaved head because he just got out of prison.
The Beautiful Elite: People living on Elysium, due to being far away from the harsh environment on Earth, not having to lift a finger to work, and especially due to the advanced healing machines they have access to. Carlyle, one of its citizens, can be seen getting disgusted and wanting to get away from his rabble of a workforce as fast as possible.
BFG: (Many of the Elysium weapons are stated on the resepective wiki as being absurdly heavy or potent, given their size, but significantly less so in the actual film)
The modified AKM, equipped with airbursting explosive ammo and a laser rangefinder/designator. Each round packs the explosive power of a modern 40mm grenade round in a smaller package.
One of the weapons for the Civil Cooperation Bureau, who supplies the weaponry for the Elysium Defense Forces, is known as the Cousar Crowe Rifle. It's classified as an anti-material rifle, weights 40kg, and fires a .22 non-explosive round at extremely high-velocity. In order to utilize it, the operator has to wear an Exosuit, not just for recoil management reasons, but to provide the damn thing with additional power.
Then we have its under-barrel Grenade Launcher, the Sky Sweeper, which is supposed to give the ability to serve as a man-portable air defense system and adds 15kg to the base rifle. It uses a smart surface-to-air grenade round with a 400,000 km range — enough to hit Earth while standing on the moon, yet has problems incapacitating even unarmored humans at less than 20 meters, as seen in the data heist segment.
Then there's the ChemRail, which is a man-portable railgun system, which utilizes a dual-propulsion system,using chemical propellant to fire the round and an electromagnetic system to propel it to incredible supersonic velocities. It doesn't get nerfed by the movie, and gives the middle finger to concealment, cover, the laws of physics, and the (presumably reinforced) walls of the armory before disintegrating a Mook. The ammo that it uses is a fin-stabilized, rail-accelerated sabot round.
Kruger uses a man-portable quad Surface-to-Space missile launcher, whose two-stage missiles are capable of intercepting (from behind, no less) spaceships traveling at 1.7 times escape velocity. The missile itself is going about 45 times escape velocity, or 518 kilometers per second, all while being about the same physical size as a baseball bat and apparently having infinite fuel.
One of the weapons in the Art of Elysium book that did not make it to the final cut, was a man-portable railgun that was going to be wielded by Crowe, one of Kruger's fellow agents. The design for it was based around the mounted door gun used by Drakey to attack one of the other survivors of the failed heist. The big difference was that it wasn't mounted and that Crowe was going to use it on foot. The power for the weapon would of been drawn from the battery packs bolted to his body armour, just like the power source used to fuel Kruger's personal deflector shield.
One possible second verse, unsung in the film, is also fitting. It's all about dropping everything in the here-now and heading towards or beyond Blauberg/ Blouberg (either-or, depending on version) when you feel called to. Now, in Voortrekker code, that basically means "looking for heaven/ freedom after a hard journey/ life" rather than necessarily meaning going to any one of the actual Blue Mountain ranges. Now... what is Elysium all about, again? Oh, yeah: differing ideas about heaven and how to get there.
A lot of the slang Kruger and his cohorts use is actual South African slang: boet, "friend"/"mate"/"dude"; lekker , (lit. "tasty) "nice"/"good"; kak, "shit"; and boykie, (lit. little boy) "cool boy" are examples.
Bitter Sweet Ending: Max manages to save Frey's daughter and get people on Earth the medical attention many of them need, but at the cost of his life to upload the information from his brain to reboot Elysium to recognize Earthlings as citizens of Elysium.
Blood Knight: Kruger and his squad-mates Drakey and Crowe seem uninterested in the luxuries that Elysium offers. They just want to kill people.
Max's Powered Armor is grafted directly onto his bones and tied into his into his nervous system and brain, which means the pain is probably a lot worse than it might seem at first.
Kruger after he gets over half his face blown off by a grenade on arrival at Elysium. And he lives! We even get a real nice look at the results, too, before he gets fixed up.
Then we get a brief, quick glance of Kruger getting the back of his skull-Exosuit interface forcibly ripped out by Max, and still going. OWWWWWW.
Break Out the Museum Piece: Max's Powered Armor is a (probably painfully) salvaged third-generation exosuit, which is good enough to take on Kruger and his new gadgets, including Kruger's fifth-generation exosuit, in an Upgrade Vs Prototype Fight moment.Lampshaded by Max when he's handed the modified AKM.
Bullying a Dragon: Delacourt at one point starts yelling at Kruger, after Max escapes custody. It earns her a well-deserved death.
Casting Gag: Sharlto Copley as an Ax-Crazy mercenary hunting the hero, a reversal from his role in District 9. Invoked, as Copley wasn't interested in playing the same character again.
Conveniently Close Planet: The titular Elysium is always in the sky above Los Angeles when needed and clearly visible. Geosynchronous orbit is 35,786 kilometers above the Earth's surface, almost three times Earth's diameter, also only technically possible at the equator but the distance between that and L.A. is trivial compared to geosync orbit.
Cool Airship: The Raven, Kruger's military VTOL-ing transport that can even fly into orbit.
Crapsack World: Earth is devastated and overpopulated and the people who still live on it are destitute. The very wealthy live on the titular Elysium, a space station similar in appearance to a Stanford torus, and will stop at nothing to maintain the distinct separation between the two classes of people and prevent immigration. To show how bad things are on Earth, the slum city Max lives in is Los Angeles.
Cure For Cancer: The machines that Elysium makes use of are manufactured by a Mega Corp. known as Armadyne. They are known as the Med-Pod 3000, and they'll cure anything from Crow's Feet to Cancer. All it takes is a simple scan and brief surgery. Max DaCosta is trying to get to Elysium because he is dying from extreme radiation exposure, and using a Med-Pod would save his life. Frey, his childhood friend, is also desperate to get to Elysium because her daughter is dying of leukemia.
Cyborg: Max DaCosta, the protagonist, has an older model Exosuit grafted to his body. Kruger has implants on his body to mount technology to, and facial nodes to interface with tech. Near the end of the film, Kruger mounts a high tech exosuit on his implants.
Cyber Punk: Though humanity has the technology to live in space colonies and cure cancer in seconds, much of Earth lives in poverty and squalor.
Deadpan Snarker: Max to an extent. Considering what he's dealt with over his life and what comes next, anyone would be. Mouthing off to robots isn't too smart.
Deconstruction: Of the very concept of Space Colonization and in particular the idea it being a solution to human problems stemming from environmental degradation. Only in the most blatantly self-serving of propaganda would one dare to depict Elysium as an outpost of brave men and women conquering the final frontier, or a shining hope for humanity. Instead it is shown to be very much a lifeboat for the one percent to save themselves while leaving the rest of humanity to rot.
Deflector Shields: Kruger carries an awesome handheld shield. He uses it twice, both times to help him survive against what would be immediate death otherwise, at the hands of 7.62mm airbursting explosive ammo and fire from the Chemrail. It seems to be powered by the powerpack he wears on the back of his body armor. Very realistically portrayed, for once, for the simple fact that although the shield stops the shot, it doesn't stop the transfer of energy to the target.
Max, as he's trying to save his life from imminent death. Nothing gets in his way from reaching Elysium , not lethal irradiation, not painful Exo-Suit surgery, not even a stab wound keeps him down for more than a day or so.
Kruger. It's his job to be one but his hunt for Max quickly becomes personal, especially when Max blows half of Kruger's head right off. This is especially evident after he wakes up from surgery.
Disappeared Dad: The father of Frey's daughter Matilda goes unmentioned and unseen.
Disc One Final Boss: At first, Kruger seems like this, but then is revived and kills Delacourt.
Disney Villain Death: Subverted. When Kruger is thrown off the railing during the final fight, he instead blows into a bunch of chunks thanks to the grenade that was attached to him.
Kruger himself is Ex-Special Forces turned chief enforcer for the Civil Cooperation Bureau.
John Carlyle's security droids are pretty standard, aside from the fact that they're gold. Yeah, subtle.
Empowered Badass Normal: Max goes from an ex-convict stricken with extreme radiation poisoning to a superhuman with Powered Armor grafted directly into his body. Kruger goes from being a badass Ex-Special Forces sociopath to an augmented badass Ex-Special Forces sociopath.
Unlike Delacourt, the rest of the Elysian government isn't exactly comfortable with employing human rights violators and shooting down unarmed shuttles full of civilians.
As much of an asshole Max's supervisor is, he's clearly disgusted with how the Armadyne CEO treats Max in the wake of his radiation.
Kruger states that he can't commit violence in front of children and repeatedly tells the little girl to keep her eyes shut while he's punching her mother.
Spider has a hard time pushing the button that would kill Max, so Max does it himself.
Evil Is Not a Toy: Delacourt thinks she can keep Kruger on a leash. This comes to bite her in the ass, big time.
Facial Horror: Krueger's face gets blown off by a grenade during the 2nd half of the film. However, that doesn't kill him.
Flipping the Bird: Kruger's henchman does this to a room of government people after he tosses a grenade in there to kill them. Kruger also does this during his siege on Max and his allies, flipping it as he flips a car with an explosive.
The tie-in websites for the Med-Pod state that it only takes a minute to completely reconstruct a destroyed face. Guess what happens to Kruger.
Max takes out one droid by jumping behind and ripping off its head. Guess how he disables Kruger's exosuit.
Max's parole officer predicts that he'll fall back to old vices: hijackings and robbery. This is exactly what he does.
The lone woman shown to manage getting her crippled daughter healed in an Auto Doc foreshadows Frey and her daugther.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Max's parole officer detected his heart rate elevating and offers him a box of pills, you can briefly see written on the lid of the box: "Side effects may include: vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, constipation, blurry vision, dry mouth, rash, increased heart palpitations, high blood pressure, violent seizures, and sudden death". Perhaps more than anything in the film, this warning shows the government's total disregard for the well-being of the citizens of Earth, as even a simple drug is so poorly regulated.
As a second Freeze-Frame Bonus, there's also the surprisingly correct Intel-syntax assembly code in which Carlyle is seen programming, and the rather believable interface with which he fries the system once he's done.
Kruger's head after he falls face first into Max's grenade. He gets better.
Also, the ChemRail rifle. A mook gets all four limbs and then his HEAD popped off. In slow motion.
Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Of the "varying gravity" type. The hijacked spacecraft at the beginning seem to ignore it; and the military craft flying up to Elysium seems to have some sort Artificial Gravity, but when said craft carrying the main characters lurches to the side near the Elysium torus everyone falls sideways "down" to Elysium. Your head can spin trying to figure out what is going on here - did the gravity switch off? Elysium can't pull the characters down - is the craft flying along the curve of Elysium? If so... why? A lot of Fridge Logic in that scene for physics nerds to sort out, but this happens this way because Reality Is Unrealistic and Rule of Cool.
The Heavy: As the leader of Elysium's secret police force on Earth, Agent Kruger serves as Delacourt's primary instrument against Max and the band of freedom fighters with whom he aligns himself. He later replaces Delacourt as the film's main antagonist by murdering Delacourt in a plot to seize control of Elysium for himself.
Julio is killed by Kruger when he shoots at the latter to get his attention away from Max when they hijack Carlyle's brain. It does buy Max enough time to shoot at Kruger and get away.
Max knows the data in his head will kill him if it's removed, but lets Spider do it so Frey's daughter will survive.
Hollywood Hacking: While hacking is shown with console text and code on believable interfaces, it's still bizarrely easy to reboot the whole space station and rearrange the government and/or citizen registry. This may be justified, as they were using a stolen piece of software that had been written by the original developer explicitly for mounting a coup on Elysium. Also, Spider seems to instantly understand the function of an avalanche of code that is whizzing by his screen.
Although played straight in some instances (as above), usually where time is limited (in movie convention sense), over the scope of the entire movie this trope is arguably subverted. For example, actually writing the code for the Elysium reboot requires the original developer to sit down and write out the program painstakingly before it can be used. Furthermore, just getting through the doors in Elysium requires Spyder to sit down and use his pre-packaged computer to hack it. In fact, that takes so long on one door that an entire fight scene has time to take place. And even syncing and downloading the data from Carlyle's brain to Max's takes time.
Hope Spot: A lone ship manages to make it past and evade Kruger's missiles but are apprehended upon landing. One of the immigrants from the shuttle that manages to make it to Elysium manages to get to a Med Pod and heal her daughter's leg enabling her to walk. Only to get tazed and arrested immediately afterwards. All things considered, though, that woman got exactly what she came for. It's highly unlikely she expected to stay there.
I Did What I Had to Do: Arguably, this can be said to be a justification for the Elysian government's extreme anti-immigration policies. Space and resources on a the colony are something the has to be managed extremely carefully, especially if one wishes to maintain a high standard of living so that can't afford to take anymore people in. Yes, they're only saving the wealthiest of the wealthy, but even that is better than everyone dying.
I Have You Now, My Pretty: Kruger expresses this toward Frey and her daughter. This behavior presses Max's Berserk Button, which ends up in him tossing the grenade to crash the shuttle upon its arrival on Elysium, blowing Kruger's face off in the process.
I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: During the data heist Manuel, the black underground weapons operative, blindly opens fire at the approaching security droid despite Max and others being in the firing line; this ends up fatally shooting Carlyle.
Impaled Palm: Happens to Spider. It doesn't slow him down for long.
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Kruger doesn't just use that sword for cooking. He stabs his sword full length through Julio and into the ground beneath him without difficulty.
Improbable Aiming Skills: One of Carlyle's bodyguard droids throws a grenade almost carelessly to the side and still gets it under one of the crew's cars.
Ironic Nursery Tune: Kruger tries calming Frey's daughter, Matilda, with an Afrikaans children's tune as they're being taken to Elysium. She's being "comforted" by the man who beat her mother and stated his intent to "settle down with her", on top of a man with a live grenade being in close proximity. Worse, it's a song of a married man and woman going about their life after spending a night together.
Irony: Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) gets Carlyle to write a reboot code for Elysium to perform a coup and keep it safe from the people on Earth. In addition, she hires a complete psychopath to do her heavy lifting for her. He ends up murdering her in cold blood, and the code ends up used to give Elysium to the illegal immigrants she was trying to protect it from.
The head of Armadyne. His first concern on discovering one of his employees has been blasted with radiation? Keeping the bedding on the gurney in the medbay clean. Oh, and don't let your dirty Earth germs get on him, cover your mouth.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Spider. He's effectively a crime boss and unapologetically uses Max, using his desperation to get him to take a job nobody else will take and not telling him the information he loads into his head-chip might be protected with lethal measures, but when it turns out that Max has found a program that will let them take control of Elysium, he immediately wants to use it to save everyone.
Jitter Cam: To an astounding amount, especially during the action scenes. This gif◊ gives behind the scenes details.
Just Eat Gilligan: Every single person who risks their lives to get up to Elysium is doing so to access a Med Pod, something that is a completely minor part of the lives of people on Elysium, but which is almost magical by standards of Earth where medicine is not much more advanced than present day. The Med Pods could easily be supplied to Earth and hence stop the problem of people trying to access Elysium so desperately in the first place (or at least reduce the occurrence substantially)... and this becomes really sickening when it turns out that there are THOUSANDS of these Med Pods just sitting around in ships that never get used and could have easily been sent down to help people. It would only take a comparatively tiny portion of money to give everyone medical treatment in the first place (or if not everyone, at least have some access to the technology rather than none at all). The fact that this is very much Truth in Television with regards to modern day medicine (and illegal immigration to some extent) makes it much less stupid than the premise would first imply.
Katanas Are Just Better: Kruger, a South African commando, carries around a katana as part of his standard gear and whips it out in a few situations where bullets still might be flying.
Knife Nut: Aside from being a katana fan, Kruger has a big combat knife strapped across his chest, plus remote-explosive shurikens. He also uses a shard of broken glass to kill Delacourt. His exo-suit also has multiple knives concealed on it in various compartments.
Knight Templar: Delacourt is a zealot at best, a straight-up bigot at worst.
Living Macguffin: Max becomes one when all the security coding for Elysium gets uploaded into his brain, coding that would let the user do anything they want. Spider and his crew want the information to disable the Elysium security systems and make everyone on Earth register as a citizen, Delacourt wants it to overthrow Elysium's current leadership, and Kruger just seems to want to kill Max, with killing the rest of Elysium being an additional bonus.
Ludicrous Gibs: Just like in District 9, there are a few glorious instances of people exploding (as well as one droid turned into scrap metal in a similar fashion).
The opening sequence features a young woman using the bays to completely change her appearance. Possibly to highlight the difference between the people on Earth who could use them to survive, and the people on Elysium who are using them primarily for cosmetic purposes.
Carlyle is referenced to get cosmetic treatments done on his face. He has a noticeable seam on his forehead and what is likely to be a brand logo on his cheekbone.
Elysium's President Patel also has a brand name embossed in the same area of his own face.
When Kruger gets his face reconstructed, the process ends up removing the distinct facial implants, and ends up de-aging Kruger significantly. He's no longer weathered and wrinkled, and it ends up removing a lot of the gray hairs out of his his beard and mustache.
Meaningful Name: Elysium was heaven in Greek mythology. Specifically, it's the heaven set aside for heroes, gods, and other divine beings. Sure enough, the Hero dies there.
Mecha-Mooks: Manufactured by Armadyne, these security bots take care of neutralizing any and all threats that arise down on Earth and in Elysium. Max holds a grudge against them, especially since they end up breaking his left arm when he was resisting their attempts to find out what was in the bag he was carryingnote An extra work uniform, a water bottle, and what appears to be a thermos.
Mega Corp.: Armadyne, who makes everything from security robots to the all-cure machines known as the Med-Pod 300s.
Messianic Archetype: Max himself. In his childhood, the nun that he lives with states that he's bound to change the world. He ends up on a quest to save humanity by hacking Elysium to make everyone its citizens, gets "crucified" with exosuit parts drilled into his body, willingly sacrifices himself at the end, which enables all the people on Earth get access to Elysium's medical facilities, basically giving them access to heaven.
More Dakka: Besides some glorious shots of an AKM slow-motion exploding a robot, the two varieties of Elysian assault rifle fire at a minigun-like buzz, along with one of the gang members' chainsaw-gripped machine gun and a door-mounted gauss heavy machine gun.
Multinational Team: Delacourt is French and the President of Elysium is Indian. Only three characters in Los Angeles are White Anglos (the White Male Lead [though with the name DaCosta and his español-hablando childhood, he could be a White Hispanic], his unnamed supervisor and Carlyle), and there's a token black coworker at both Max's and Frey's workplaces, but the rest are Latino, and Max is fluent in Spanish. The only East Asian we see is an Elysium biotechnician in one scene.
Mundane Utility: Kruger uses his katana to help him cook food over an open fire.
My God, What Have I Done?: Delacourt refuses treatment from Frey after she's stabbed in the neck, murmuring 'no' in remorse for what she did.
Debatable. It could be easily argued that it was a final act of arrogance by refusing aid from someone she deemed as an inferior person or even to avoid answering for her actions as even if Kruger was stopped, Delacourt was bound to be arrested and jailed for attempting to stage a political coup.
She was, in any case, seconds away from death when she said "no"; nothing Frey could have done would have saved her - making her "acceptance" of deserved death somewhat moot.
Narrating the Obvious: The beginning has a bit of this: onscreen text explains that Earth is an overpopulated Wretched Hive, while Elysium is an idyllic space station where the rich hide from the masses, but the accompanying flyover visuals and first couple of scenes make all this perfectly clear. A definite case of Viewers Are Morons.
Nerves of Steel: Carlyle is impressively composed when his Bugatti SSTO is shot down, and even sets an ambush, immediately after crash-landing, for Max and Julio by sending only one of his droids out to kill them, and waiting for them to leave cover before deploying the second. However, he (like Delacourt, and, it's somewhat implied, many Elysians), seems slightly robotic, which may be the source of his imperturbability. Mind you, he still had the occasional small spazz and yelp. It's still impressive that he wasn't screaming and flailing.
Nice Guy: Julio. Although he's a car thief, he's never shown to be anything but friendly and an unfailingly loyal friend to Max.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The plot to open up Elysium to everybody on Earth is only possible because of Delacourt's desire to overthrow the current government, requiring an underhanded reboot code. Then Max gets a hold of it...
No OSHA Compliance: Max's foreman threatening people with doing really dangerous things (like go inside a radiation chamber to fix a door jam) or get replaced. Worse still is the fact that the radiation chamber automatically energizes upon closing, can't be opened from the inside, and has no emergency shutoff button or deadman switch.
Justified in that OSHA probably doesn't even exist anymore. It's worth noting that the radiation chamber, once active, does have sensors to detect if something is in there that shouldn't be. It doesn't turn the chamber off, of course; it's more like "By the way, you're cooking some dude." The whole thing is made pretty ironic due to the intercom in the factory constantly blaring on about working safely, and in a contemporary environment an arm fracture would all but require a supervisor to replace that worker for the time being.
Older than They Look: Kruger. According to supplementary material, he was born in 1970, making him almost 200. This is also why Carlyle doesn't bat an eye when Delacourt mentions he'd have a secure arms contract for 200 years: They both can and fully intend to live that long and beyond.
At the time the movie takes place, Carlisle is already 144 years old, since his birth year is taken from his brief bio that flashes on the Elysium control center's screens during the data heist.
One Last Job: Spider offers one to Max. If he can obtain some data from inside an Elysium citizen's head, such as CEO Carlyle, he can get a ride up to Elysium to cure his radiation poisoning. Since Max doesn't really have much of a choice at this point, he accepts it.
Please Wake Up: Max, to Julio after Kruger stabs him through the chest after he shows up to stop their data-jacking.
Max DaCosta's third-generation Exosuit gives him the strength to rip machines apart with his bare hands in his quest to reach Elysium.
Later, Kruger is outfitted with a sleeker model, which appears to be a fifth-generation exosuit. That said, the armor part of the suit is shown to be distinct from the exoskeleton that allows the protagonist to walk and move. Unlike Max's older model Exosuit, Kruger's has more extensive armour components, including better protection for his torso. His version is also mounted to his existing implants, rather than having it grafted to his bones like Max's.
It looks like Max's Exosuit, and possibly all other Exosuits, are made and manufactured by Kawasaki; there's also a med-pod with a large Versace logo on it.
In the beginning, there is a closeup of Max's Adidas, possibly a nod to Yellow, the commercial Blomkamp did for the shoe company.
Carlyle's personal space shuttle is an in-universe badged Bugatti, with design cues from the Veyron.
Delacourt's wristwatch/communicator has the Bvlgari brand.
Psycho for Hire: Kruger; his profile mentions him committing numerous human rights violations. Kruger is one of those rare psychos that backfires against their employer!
Rage Against the Reflection: Kruger punches and partially shatters a mirror after his face is reconstructed. Seeing one of the shards is what gives him the idea to kill Delacourt with it.
Ragnarok-Proofing: Judging by the the data thieves' ride and the cars along the street, no new cars have been manufactured on Earth for over 150 years. The land yachts shown on the street at one point would be considered in visibly good shape if they were found today, much less found in a slum after 150 years.
Red Shirt: The men who go with Max to hijack Carlyle's brain, and later, one of Spider's guards on Elysium. His friend Julio turns out to be Mauve Shirt, surviving just a little longer and having more screentime, but still ultimately dying.
Required Secondary Powers: Using an exosuit requires skeletal implants, which explains why Max can tear off a droid's head without ruining his fingers or Kruger surviving a grenade that reduces his face to a bloody mess.
Retro Upgrade: Max wonders why he's being given an antique AK to use and is promptly shown the futuristic explosive rounds that allow it to remain viable.
Ripped from the Headlines: It doesn't need to be said that in 2013, wealth disparity and societal division in spite of constantly emerging technologies that have the potential to improve everyone's lives is a hotly debated issue.
Robo Speak: Max gives some back to his "parole officer" after it (a robot) extends his parole for sassing some robot officers.
The Civil Cooperation Bureau, who provides most of the weaponry in the setting, shares a name with the real-life Civil Cooperation Bureau, which was a government-sponsored hit squad within the South African Defense Force, during The Apartheid Era. Agent Kruger, played by South African actor Sharlto Copley, is a member of the CCB who works as a Sleeper Agent for the Elysium Defense Forces. The members of his team are also white South Africans, very tellingly.
Sharlto Copley has mentioned that he and the production team based Kruger's look and accent on a composite of different things. The camo that Kruger wears, as well as Drakey and Crowe is the exact camo worn by the SADF during The Apartheid Era. Kruger's beard and shorts is a reference to the 32 Battalion, which was a special light infantry battalion for the SADF. The accent is particular to the Cape Flats region of South Africa. Judging by Kruger's age, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that He was with the 32 Battalion of the SADF and hails from Cape Flats.
Shown Their Work: The Elysium reboot code is seen on screen before being compiled, and it is Intel-syntax assembly code. The next time we see this code on-screen, it is shown as escaped strings with hex characters; this is how shellcode usually looks like. Actual exploits will contain code like this, for pretty much similar purposes as the one shown on the film.
South Africa: Kruger, Drake and Crowe's accents indicate they hail from here, which the actors who play them also do. Ax-Crazy white South African mercenaries are a trope even in 2154, it seems. Their drop ship even has the South African flag painted on it. A whole class of people living in a slum prevented from even setting foot where the other half lives? See: The Apartheid Era.
Space Does Not Work That Way: Elysium doesn't have a roof — the shuttles are able to enter and land anywhere on the habitat ring. On a structure smaller than a planet, centrifugal force and high walls shouldn't be enough to keep air from leaking out, and there's no indication that the atmosphere is held in by a force field, even though force field technology exists as applied to Kruger's personal shield.
Space Is Noisy: While more subdued than space opera style explosions, the missiles that explode in space can still be heard.
Space Station: The eponymous Elysium is a man-made installation orbiting Earth, where the privileged of humanity live apart from the destitute masses.
Spiritual Successor: While not sharing any plot, this film shares a lot with Blomkamp's previous film District 9. It's about a racial population confined to slums and exploited by a wealthier class with Apartheid undertones. Eventually violence erupts and the hero must fight alongside the downtrodden people against evil mercenaries hired by the wealthy class using sci-fi guns and power armor.
The Starscream: Delacourt plans a coup because she feels the current president doesn't have what it takes to lead. Kruger later kills Delacourt in order to seize control of Elysium for himself. Karma's a bitch.
Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: Max does a variation of this, by holding a grenade with the pin pulled, but the lever still held in to prevent it from exploding, very close to his head when he meets up with Kruger to get a ride up to Elysium. He tells the latter not to try anything funny, or he'll blow his head off, destroying everything that was hijacked from Carlyle.
Straw Vulcan: Also Delacourt, though she's a crafty enough operator that she has no problem invoking emotion to make a point. But, the slightly-robotic way she does it (and everything else, for that matter) indicates that she probably doesn't actually feel it, but is simply just that bigoted.
Super Strength and Super Speed: Aside from being able to rip off the heads from droids and throw people around like dolls, the Exosuits increase the user's physical performance dramatically. They move more quickly than the average combatant, and Kruger was able to leap a great distance and height using his Exosuit. Max was able to rip himself from a gurney, and pulverize Crowe into the floor of the Armoury before throwing him like a shotput. Earlier, we have Max running away from the botched heist, on foot, at high sustained speeds. Considering the amount of distance that was put between him and Kruger, he had to be moving at least 35 mph.
Tattooed Crook: Max spent several years in prison and is on parole, and as we can see from his scenes in the beginning, is very inked out.
Think of the Children!: "Do you have children, President Patel?". This is Delacourt's response to President Patel chewing her out for killing dozens of people trying to enter Elysium. This is also her rationale for trying to takeover Elysium.
To Create A Playground For Evil: When Kruger finds out about the codes in Max's head and gets tired of Delacourt's scolding for his violent antics, he goes on to initiate his plan to turn Elysium into one of these.
Too Dumb to Live: Delacourt for up-close confronting a complete psycho like Kruger without any protection or guards.
Trailers Always Spoil: The teaser was fairly opaque, but one of the full-length trailers has two specific shots (Max yelling "I have five days to live!"; Max carrying the Ill Girl) give away the plot. Another goes into even more detail, summarizing the first half-hour. The only thing any of them preserve is Kruger.
Trailers Always Lie: The trailer heavily implies that Max's exosuit is what gives him the ability to override Elysium's system. It doesn't, but the reboot code it lets him download from Carlyle's brain does. It also implies some shots of Kruger are actually of Max (such as Kruger's Power Walk when he begins the coup and specifically starts gunning for Max), and that Kruger is assisting the hero. The trailer also implied that Max's exosuit can remotely crash a ship, which was just gesture by Kruger (activating sticky homing explosives).
Unwinnable by Design: The ARG website contains a short "test" supposedly conducted by a robotic official to check if the player (supposedly a person from the impoverished Earth) is fit for a free move to Elysium under some charity program or another. All the questions, however, are rigged, and every possible choice will only ever result in the robot mocking the player before eventually deeming them unfit (for example, in order to test their English skills, the robot will ask the player to type down the word they hear: four/for/fore. Since they all sound exactly the same, naturally every response would result in the robot calling out the player on lacking linguistic skills and deducing points). This does an excellent job of getting future viewers both to sympathize with the frustration of the Earth people and to hate the self-righteous hypocrisy of the Elysians.
Vomit Indiscretion Shot: After Max suffers a lethal dose of radiation, his friend takes him inside to figure out what is wrong and help him. Right as Max walks in the door, he pukes on the table in full view.
Who Wears Short Shorts?: Surprisingly, Kruger does when he's not on duty. According to some behind-the-scenes material, this was Sharlto Copley's idea.
White Male Lead: Max is a light-skinned Hispanic, but is played by the very WASPy Matt Damon. This stands out because almost every other character in the movie is played by an actor of a matching ethnicity.
The Worf Effect: Max falls victim to this in his first encounter with Kruger. Even with his Powered Armor he has trouble just barely escaping from the latter.
World Half Full: Max's Heroic Sacrifice grants everyone on Earth citizenry of Elysium, and Med-Pods are flown out to Earth, providing everyone proper and adequate enough health care service.
You Got Spunk: Max, which is why Spider gives him the exoskeleton. Apparently "nobody else had the balls".
Kruger toward Max again during their last fight: "Come on, you've got more than that. I know you".
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Kruger does this to Delacourt after he sees her near the end of the film. It's likely he was intending to kill her regardless of what happened, since he didn't trust politicians in the first place, but her criticizing him for his recent actions probably gave him the excuse to do it sooner rather than later.