Tuesday, 27 August 2013
109 Minutes. Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura & William Fichtner. Director: Neill Blomkamp.
More like 'The Borg Identity' as Matt Damon has more metal and pieces of Meccano strapped to his bald head than Patrick 'Picard' Stewart in 'Star Trek-The Next Generation' here. Speaking of which it's been a comic-book geeks fantasy, science-fiction Summer and year of big blockbusters that has seen 'Star Trek-Into Darkness' lead the way at warp-speed for a formidable season of super and extra-terrestrial plots and budgets. We've seen Men of Steel, Avengers, X-Men, Lone Rangers, zombie wars. In addition to a 'rock 'em sock 'em', Transformer versus Godzilla like battle on the rim of the Pacific and some father Smith and Jaden junior 'After Earth' experiences to go along with Tom Cruise's plunges into the depths of 'Oblivion'. Still as one of Hollywood's best and most marketable stars joins dynamic 'District 9' director Neill Blomkamp, we're about to see a whole new world and science-fiction isolated themes that could even hunt-down Vin Diesel's 'Riddick' or ground the 'Gravity' of the forthcoming George Clooney and Sandra Bullock space vehicle.
Matt Damon is in search of 'Elysium'...and we're not talking about that place Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston found in 'Wanderlust'. Damon's wanderings (inbetween manufacturing the very robots that control him like the modern revision of 'Total Recall') find him in looking for a place after earth in what looks like a blinged out version of that "garage" in 'Deep Space Nine'. 'Elysium' is named after the concept of Greek afterlife reserved for God's and there really is some religious, political and social commentary and satire in this piece from the man who took immigartion and cruel regimes to task in the South African prawn cocktail of'District 9'. The great Blomkamp could be the modern day movie version of Phillip K. Dick. The out of this world habitat of Elysium here is reserved for the rich, while the poor remained downtrodden on Earth wasting away along with its resources. There really is trouble in this paradise. Finally after all these years of rehashed sci-fi concepts of apocalyptic futures, one comes along that is refreshingly tight as it is purely terrifying. On Elysium, anything goes for the blessed "better-off", along with free healing healthcare. It's no wonder Damon and everyone want in...even if they have to break into the most heavily guarded planet to get there. This health-care methaphor takes shots at everything wrong with todays world in it's look at the future and this is why this seperation story is in a class of it's own.
With Ben Affleck taking on Batman's cowl, it's only right we show some love to leading man of the moment, Matt Damon, who truly shines as this films star. Shaving his head and tattooing himself, whilst permanently inking his reputation as a cut above the rest, all-round nice-guy action hero, ready to fight and do anything for the right thing. In another universe this guy would have been the perfect Captain Kirk. After he awoke the late, great author Phillip K. Dick's vision of 'The Adjustment Bureau', Damon switches hats to an action matter that still has mindful themes to go along with the stronghold, no holes barred, pull no punches action-set pieces. With 'True Grit', the fearless cowboy actor who really showed Hollywood something this year with Michael Douglas, tenses through a taught and inspired, independent smash. The humanitarian strikes a bolt into the brain of this hardware generation with a real human issue. It hasn't been this scary since 'Contagion'. That is until you see Jodie Foster, who gives her coldest and most calculated multiplying performance since she killed it with Terrence Howard in 'The Brave One'. Besting Melissa Leo's on-screen performance for this years bitch, battle-axe wielding futuristic power, Foster would have been perfect for 'Oblivion'... although she would have probably shot Tom Cruise out the sky before he got to meet her like that 'hishe' ending.
This films tenacious talent doesnt end in Hollywood however. As the support is as strong as the underrated actors filmographys. 'I Am Legend's' Alice Braga in end of the world scenarios once again shows she's worth fighting for with the maturity beyond her years. Whilst inspired international talent Diego Luna and Wagner Moura can expect to receive some phone-calls and scripts now their talent is exposed to the worlds stage. There's even room for cult, character actor William Fichtner who returns to his 'Dark Knight' and 'Prison Break' slick and sick suited acting self after his great grizzly, vile villain in this Summers criminally underrated 'Lone Ranger' and 'Stargate's' Michael Shanks who makes a shift from the time to space continuum, for a cult fans cameo apperance. It gets even more horrendous, horrible, brutal and bad with the nicest guy Sharlto Copley. Yes, that's right the genuine talent from 'District 9' and 'A-Team's' Murdock aces his faced task of becoming the most despicable villain not named Gru, complete with a 'I just chopped down a Lumberjack' beard. You may have laughed at his accent in 'D9', but wielding a sword and a face that looks like he missed his beard and went for his cheeks with his morning shave, Copley's cold play is no joke here. He more than copes with his task of portraying his darker and more disgusting side after so many light and warm performances. He's so repellent here he's going to attract awards. Even Foster's ice-queen couldn't get this cold. After 'Star Trek's' Benedict Cumberbatch led the way with a villain year that looks to best last years Bond, Loki and Bane, it's clear the greatest of 2013 lies in the future of 2154.
With androids that could give you nightmares of electric sheep and blade work that could leave you running for the Hollywood hills this blockbuster is brutal as it tames all notions of a watered down modern, mainstream movie market. With wonderful 'Minority Report' like, pulsing, power weapons, comical and satirical robot representatives of parole officers this is a calculation of a technological world distancing itself from others. The more impersonal it gets, the more Blomkamp is getting personal with people. Therefore we are given the true nature of science-fiction in all it's essence. The same 'do the right thing before it's too late' themes that 'Star Trek' and 'Star Wars' explored underneath all the sabres, phasers and fun. Those themes of how our past choices can echo into our future and how we can make things right and better in the present as everything connects. Set your faces to stun, because even in the 'Terminator' destruction, unflinching moments, this world warning is truly a gift...and as for the action...'Halo'...I mean hello! These shaky cam, along with first-person shooting, aerial attacks and hand to metal combat show this film has a lot of nuts and bolts beneath it's screwed on vision. This is the future of Sci-Fi movies. Hardwired and inspired, some may put this Blomkamp follow-up below 'District 9' as a sort-of sequel, but it's a whole new world...and even if it's not in the same district as its predecessor it's definitely in the same vicinity. That being out of this world and in a whole other universe and idea that may be closer to home and this reality, than you think. 'Elysium'...you really want to go there? TIM DAVID HARVEY.