By Ryan Guerra

The sophomore effort of director/writer Neill Blomkamp proves that his previous sci-fi success District 9 was no fluke. Blomkamp once again introduces us to an interesting, intelligent and believable sci-fi world grounded in a realistic not so distant future. Like so many sci-fi greats in the past, he also uses this medium as a platform for social commentary which gives the film some substance over just cool visual effects and action.

Set in 2154, the world has become over populated, poor and diseased while the wealthy established a colony on a halo-like space station called Elysium in order to preserve their privileged way of life. Through this social dichotomy we are introduced to Matt Damon’s character Max who as a boy dreams of someday being able to save enough money to live on Elysium. Unfortunately, the world gets in the way and Max made some bad life choices that kept him from his dream. That is until a life threatening event has him doing whatever it takes to get to Elysium to seek medical treatment.

Damon is neither great nor bad as this character. He is just good. Perhaps that is the point. He has become somewhat of an “everyman” over his last several films. An everyman who you can relate to in some form and understand what he is going through and why he makes the choices he makes.

Damon is supported by a solid cast of characters that help him along his journey and all do a great job of adding to his plight. While Jodie Foster plays a ruthless secretary of defense of Elysium, she delivers a solid performance we have come to expect from Foster. But the film’s best performance is delivered by Sharito Copley who plays the villain Kruger. Copley’s character builds from a small unassuming part to become a deranged, creepy and scene-stealing villain. In fact, in most scenes where Damon and Copley are together, you almost forget that Damon is on screen.

The journey builds on itself and sci-fi fans will not be disappointed, however it hits a point in the third act where it becomes apparent that it may or may not deliver in the end, depending on how lenient you are. For me, it was a bit of a letdown as I did not buy into the emotional motivation towards resolution. I felt the film did not do a strong enough job of creating the relationship needed for that kind of payoff and would have preferred it taking a different direction. Still, it was believable in the world this film creates and the overall experience, especially Copley’s performance makes it worth the price of admission.

4 out of 5 stars