This is a guest post from James McMillen.
"Elysium" is the second feature effort from promising director Neill Blomkamp (of "District 9" fame) and takes place in a future world utterly divided by class status. The wealthy (and healthy) elite live on Elysium - a massive utopian space base hovering just outside the Earth's atmosphere - while the poor, desperate and overpopulated masses clamor for health and resources on an Earth left to relative ruin.
Within this structure, the ruling council on Elysium, led essentially by the strictly defensive-minded Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster), works hard to keep ambitious Earthling immigrants from breaching the station in search of a better life. Meanwhile, on Earth, we are introduced to Max da Costa (Matt Damon), a former criminal and factory worker whose job - somewhat ironically - involves manufacturing automated law enforcement officers that in turn keep him in check. It's a bit like a home invader in today's world working at ADT.
The film really kicks off when Max endures heavy radiation exposure during an accident at work, and, long story short, finds himself in need of a trip to Elysium to take advantage of superior healing methods. Max goes to an old acquaintance named Spider - a sort of underground rebel/tech guru - for help getting to Elysium. The catch is, Spider wants something in return.
In one of the more brilliant "future Earth" moves from Blomkamp, officials from Elysium have what look like little BlueTooth devices that serve as information stockpiles linked to the mind. You know how we think it's cool to upload information to a Sharefile secure data storage cloud where we can access it on any device? Well, in Elysium they do the same thing to what basically amounts to an extension of their own minds! And Spider wants Matt Damon to hijack this storage system from a high-ranking official.
So begins a frantic adventure for Max, as he must bring down an Elysium official and claw his way to Elysium in order to save his own life (and perhaps that of an old friend's daughter along the way). All in all, the film is fast-paced and entertaining, made most enjoyable by its sheer imagination of a divided future. There are holes and flaws - a few poor acting performances (we're looking at you, Jodie Foster), and a few vague explanations and conflicting story details - but if you're looking for a summer "popcorn film," you'll have a blast at "Elysium."