‘Elysium’ follows ‘District 9’ mold of sci-fi action inside heavy themes

Matt Damon in ‘Elysium.’ Rated R, 109 min. Sony Pictures Releasing, 2013.

“Elysium” is set in the year 2145, when the world has become overpopulated and half-destroyed, and the super-rich live in luxury on a man-made space station, free of disease and worry. When factory worker Max (Matt Damon) takes on a mission to infiltrate the exclusive station, defense secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) will go to any length to stop him.

The film is gritty, fierce and quite graphic at times, and the hand-held camerawork gives it a documentary-style feel. While Damon gives his strongest performance since the “Bourne” series, Foster suffers from an underwritten part, and is overshadowed by the intense Sharlto Copley as security agent Kruger.

As he did in his Oscar-nominated “District 9,” director Neill Blomkamp deftly weaves timely social commentary into a seemingly far-fetched plot. Amidst the futuristic science-fiction action involving spaceships and robots are very human themes like class discrimination, wealth distribution, health care and more. You could argue that “Elysium” pursues a liberal agenda, but directors seem to do their best work when they are passionate about what they are saying, and find creative ways to say it.

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