Now, I won't deny that this movie had a lot of promise. The visuals were stunning, the premise was interesting, the acting was good, and the action scenes were definitely worth watching. When it came to actually executing the ideas, however, the plot fell flat on its face. Quite aside from the tired old Romantic Plot Tumor that had no reason to be there, the rape threats thrown in as a cheap shortcut just to show how evil the villain was, and the Heroic Sacrifice martyr ending that's been done to death, one of the few interesting, non-generic characters was Killed Off For Real in a scene that any seasoned troper could see coming a mile away. Almost from the moment I sat down, I felt as if I knew exactly where the film was going. It had real promise, and by no means was it a horrible movie, but it could have been so much better.
Covers familiar themes but other movies did it better.
As many have already pointed out, Elysium like District 9 uses dystopian near future setting for the purpose of social commentary. In this case, Elysium is pro-immigration and free health care using the real life 1% elite vs the 99% plebs issue that has become increasingly prevalent in recent movies. This presents a problem as other movies such as In Time actually bothered to explain why the rich would withhold the benefits of long life. As for the idea of the rich fleeing into space, well this outlandish concept clashed with the supposed realism the film opts for. If the rich control so much of the world's land mass then the last thing they would do is flee into outer space. In this movie they don't have much of a reason to, as it has been shown that they have built a mechanised police force, the most high-tech weaponry as well as highly dangerous agents that instil fear into most of the populace. So I felt the movie failed to deliver a truly thought-provoking social commentary which the film was indeed aiming for. As for the action, I would say that unless you are an avid fan of shaky-cam (which I am not) then other action movies this year will comfortably top this. The acting was sufficient but seeing Matt Damon fleeing a lot and having that adrenaline-pumped look of fear and nervousness is something that he does perhaps too often in movies. The standout in this movie is Sharlto Copley's Kruger who has all the right qualities of a villain that injects some interesting turns in the movie and manages to come across and an intense and awe-inspiring foe. The special effects are indeed good, but after seeing so much of the dilapidated state of LA it was the sight of the gleaming Elysium space station itself which had the best visuals to offer. Elysium is not a long movie at all, but the film wastes time from setting the main character with his primary mission when it could have been used to give more background information. Whilst Elysium isn't a bad movie it isn't exactly a very good one. The bleak setting, lack of a genuinely interesting debate and shaky-cam action mean that seeing Elysium once is more than enough.