Horrible, horrible action film. The title relates to ‘a paradise’, traditionally the place in Greek Mythology that all heroes went to after death, here an Earth orbiting haven for the super rich, wherein everyone lives like kings with all manner of technology that can cure essentially all known disease and even rebuild flesh. It’s the year 2154, and whilst the human elite are drinking champagne and playing croquet in space, everyone still on the surface of Earth exists in extreme poverty, which is where we find our hero, Max (Matt Damon), who had always dreamed of going into utopian orbit himself, but usually finds himself on the wrong side of the law, and is currently desperately sucking up a menial labour intensive job.
It’s from director Neill Blomkamp, and follows on from his successful ‘District 9’ (09) and as there the special effects look tremendous, albeit a little similar to his previous film. The similarities don’t end there though, indeed one could almost extrapolate the basic story from one and insert it into the other with precious little difference between them, and just as ‘District 9’ started off with an interesting concept and then degenerated into a plodding excuse for pointless action, so too does history repeat itself, only with a far less convincing story and acting, as although Damon is fine in the role, the rest of the supporting cast far from have their finest moments.
Except for Sharlto Copley, who plays the central villain and hired goon of the military defence of Elysium and clearly had a lot of fun in the role, but his character is simply too grotesque. One scene sees him threaten a very young girl and her mother and it is not especially justified by the narrative, rather it’s an excuse to bring the childhood sweetheart of Max into the fray, which is not only horrifically lame but the scene is actually pretty disturbing to watch. Combine this with excessive violence, bloodshed, and the continued peril of the mother and daughter via a very basic, contrived, ‘been done a thousand times before’ storyline that is predictable, nonsensical, and features ‘Gladiator’ esque music with flashbacks of Max and the woman of his dreams as children (together with images of tattoos of their names ‘4 ever’), and it not only becomes direly cheesy, but you’re left thinking why? Why make this? The only point seems to be, once again, to blow things up, but it has been done in a depressingly tiresome, and at times disturbing, way.