Neill Blomkamp has only one movie plot in him: a white man saves non-white humans/humanoids from oppression by sacrificing his body. In Elysium a white man saves American Latinos from the mean whites and the Asians, in District 9 a white man saves South African bug people from the mean whites and the Nigerians.* I suppose marketing demands a white hero, but it’s an extra-stolid Matt Damon. He’s so dull. It’s really insulting to white people, come to think of it.
Critics have praised Elysium as a piece of social commentary, but this is a movie in which all the problems of oppression can be solved by typing a Windows command into Matt Damon’s brain. Metropolis it ain’t. However, there’s a lot of quality fighting, with people’s guts flying everywhere and things blowing up. This isn’t my big thing, but for what it is, it’s done pretty well.
As a movie, Elysium is nothing, but as a job scheme for the dude who played Wikus in District 9, it’s pretty good. Copley plays Kruger, the South African ninja assassin (in case you didn’t get that he was South African at first, his spaceship has a South African flag on the side! You can’t even meet a nice South African in space!) Kruger spends his time menacing saintly tan women, brandishing a katana, and gabbling a mile a minute in his Afrikaaner accent. At one point a grenade blows off half his head, and a magical rich person machine puts his skull back together and even washes his face while it’s at it, so he can go back to trying to kill Matt Damon with his katana. A katana! Now that’s real cultural exchange.
For those who want to know, Elysium technically passes the Bechdel test, in that a woman talks to another woman about something other than a man, but since it’s our hero’s lady friend comforting her supposedly deathly ill but suspiciously healthy-looking daughter, and since this lady friend spends the rest of the movie being either a saintly healer or a potential rape victim in need of male rescue, I’m not sure if it really matters. I’m not even sure if any of the dialogue matters, come to think of it. How the fuck did that machine know to wash Wikus’s face? That is full service.
* Blomkamp’s next film is a comedy starring Die Antwoord, but I bet it’s a comedy where a white dude suddenly gets android buff and saves oppressed brown people from Die Antwoord and like, Dev Patel. Fuck that!