From 'District 9' director comes another smart film

August 15, 2013 

Bourne is back. Well, kind of.

Maybe the greatest action film tragedy of recent memory was Matt Damon bowing out of his duties as the title character of the wildly fun Bourne series. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) was great, but he was no Bourne.

So what a relief it was to catch the trailer for "Elysium," a dystopian thriller from the director of the South African apartheid action drama "District 9." There Neill Blomkamp demonstrated a skill for entertaining mainstream audiences without dumbing down the commentary. "Elysium" follows those footsteps.

The film takes place about 150 years in the future. Earth is in tatters: famine, drought, overpopulation, insecurity, disease and pollution. The rich have retreated to a pristine space station called Elysium high above the planet where they rule the minions below with an iron fist. The privileged few are run by the ice cold Defense Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster). One of those minions is Max, a blue collar man who works in a factory that engineers droids. When he's sprayed with radiated material at the factory, he's given five days to live. An instant cure is available on Elysium, but there's no chance he'll ever see it. They weld a powerful body armor onto him, and he shoots off into space.

"Elysium" is a louder film than "District 9." The fight scenes are well-choreographed and the special effects on Elysium and set design on Earth are stunning. But it's more than just action and visual wonder; Blomkamp does a lot of shouting about immigration, pollution, health care and in-equality. It may fly over a lot of people's heads, but that's the best trade-off for an action film. Either sit back and completely unplug, or watch a spectacular physical film that makes your adrenaline rush and your brain ponder.

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