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South African writer/director Neill Blomkamp alerted the world to his talent in 2009 with
, a sci-fi thriller with a political message about a two-tier society challenged by a mechanised everyman. He follows up with more of the same, except with star names and thrice the budget, swapping a Johannesburg township for an impoverished Los Angeles barrio in 2154. The super-rich have decamped to a man-made paradise in space, and a gym-pumped Matt Damon is determined to get there after being irradiated in an industrial accident. The tranquil utopia, called Elysium, is the only place where he can get top-tier medical treatment and he uses stolen government data - uploaded to his shaven head - as a bargaining chip.
Sharlto Copley is in vowel-mangling panto mode as the creepy agent assigned to stop him, under orders from Jodie Foster's chillingly malevolent defence secretary. Despite providing an immaculately designed world and carefully mapped narrative, Blomkamp's stirring fable about social inequality is ultimately lost under textbook lock-and-load sci-fi bluster and booming overstatement as Damon, in full-metal armature, transforms into a Nietzschean superman.
Cast & Crew
Maxwell Perry Cotton
Jose Pablo Cantillo
Sony Pictures Releasing
DVD and Blu-ray
16 Aug 2013
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