In his second feature film, director Neill Blomkamp gives audiences another politically-charged science-fiction film that coincides greatly with his debut at the helm, District 9 (2009). While District 9 focused on the restrictive racial segregation that took place in South Africa for nearly 50 years, Elysium sheds light on a more current societal issue within the United States. The issue, which is defined by the statistic that shows the wealthiest 1% of the population controlling the economic state of the nation, has been lobbied in widespread movements throughout the U.S., most notably in Occupy Wall Street. Blomkamp takes this concept and sets it 140 years into the future, when the world has become nearly unlivable and the affluent have migrated to a space station that orbits the earth. By changing the time period and setting of the story, the film becomes more appealing to the average moviegoer and less of an assault on the prosperous culture it is criticizing, but the motive of the film is still quite clear and concise.
With Matt Damon as its star, Elysium is a very accessible movie for the general American population. Since winning an Oscar for Good Will Hunting (1997), Damon has enjoyed an illustrious film career that includes pictures like Saving Private Ryan (1998), Ocean's Eleven (2001), The Bourne Identity (2002), The Departed (2006) and Invictus (2009). Along with Jodie Foster, the two represent the polar opposites of the spectrum that is represented in the film. However, the performer who really steals the show is Sharlto Copley, who has established himself as Blomkamp's acting counterpart in his first several projects. Playing a mercenary type who lives on earth but is employed by the government, Copley's character seems to be a depiction of the corrupt and vile methods used in U.S. intelligence operations.
Following its release, Elysium has been met with a solid dosage of both skepticism and applause. Based on domestic and international ticket sales, the film has eclipsed its $115-million budget, but still failed to achieve the high expectations of the production studios. Its message of equality seems to be slowly trickling to more and more viewers, but it appears that the film did not immediately strike its intended target audience. Still, by raising awareness on this current events issue in American society through this picture, Blomkamp has further legitimized himself as a talented and driven filmmaker; but while the vision of District 9 earned a total of four nominations at the Academy Awards, there does not seem to be any reason to expect the same from this effort. Perhaps the final product did not turn out to be exactly what Blomkamp desired, but it is still a movie worth the attention of anyone who is concerned with the economic and social upheaval in the U.S., or even just to those who are a fan of science-fiction.