Sam Strange Remembers: ELYSIUM

A chilling portrait of things to come.

I have never been a big fan of the poor people. We're supposed to be allowed our opinions, but whenever I shout this one at people, they look at me like I'm some kind of monster. Well now, with Elysium, they can see how they are the monsters.

Elysium is a futuristic film in where all the poor people had so many babies that all the smart people were forced to build a spaceship called Elysium to get away from them, a place where politeness and bathing still exist, a place where the works of William Shakespeare and The Mona Lisa don't have to worry about being turned into some illiterate philistine's toilet paper. In their absence, the Earth has basically become an overrun cesspool of dirt, disease, and crime where everyone is too lazy to pull themselves out of poverty and make something of their lives. Obviously, the people there are eager to find some way to get to Elysium, but none are willing to work hard and get there the honest, old fashioned way.

The film focuses on one such poor guy, Max Damon, who it should come as no surprise is on parole for stealing cars. Max works at a factory that makes robots, which in turn help keep Max in check whenever he uses profanity. One day he takes an unsanctioned siesta in one of the radiation rooms and gets zapped with enough radiation to kill five horses per day for five days. As an act of thankless mercy, a robot gifts him with pills which will keep him in mostly tip-top shape until his demise. On the Government's dime, of course.

Instead of accepting his fate, Max gets it in his head that he deserves sanctuary on Elysium in order to fix his affliction, even though he doesn't speak any French at all and has no idea which fork you use for salads.

But getting to Elysium is no easy task. Almost every day stolen ships full of would-be refugees try to make the trek. Being a habitat free of savagery, Elysium has no onboard defense against such penetration. But they do have ties to Earth scum who don't mind murdering people for fun. Well, actually there's just one, a hairy, incomprehensible psychopath named Kroger who has magical powers thanks to various robot implants all over his body. He is also an invincible caveman who accidentally drank the fountain of youth several thousand years ago. When an Earth ship comes close to Elysium, Kroger shoots them out of space with an out-of-space bazooka. If any survive that, the people on board are all arrested and sent back to Earth with bags full of placating booze, cocaine, and Chick Tracts.

Elysium defense is run by a cold, take no prisoners badass named Rhodes (played by Tilda Swinton.) Rhodes obsesses over the safety of Elysium, but the bleeding heart liberals who run the show think her methods are too harsh and keep her from doing her job to her best ability. For instance, after shooting down some refugee ships, they get mad at her and decommission Kroger.

This brings us back to Max. Desperate to get to Elysium, Max strikes a deal with a criminal warlord named Spider to get on the ship. To do this, he needs to hijack a rich guy's space car and steal his brain so he can learn how to actually fly the space car. This won't be easy as the guy will likely have several robot bodyguards. So Max will have to don a surgically implanted exo-suit. The suit doesn't actually make him stronger. It's more for keeping him on his feet while radiation liquifies his internal organs. His actual weapon for the mission is a rifle that shoots bullets that explode. Other than that he's pretty much on his own, which is why he spends most of the film on his back.

So Max Damon finds a rich guy and steals his brain. Up on Elysium, Rhodes sees this and sends Kroger after him, even though Kroger's not supposed to be working anymore. The stupidity of her superiors have forced her to take the law into her own hands like a maverick.

See, the guy Max Damon hijacks has memorized a written code that can open Elysium up to anyone, thereby making the whole human race a citizen. Having stolen his brain, Max Damon now has the code, and his head is suddenly much more valuable than it was five minutes ago when all he knew was the bus schedule and how to make weed pipes from pop cans.

Kroger arrives on the scene and blows up everything except for Max Damon, who slips away thanks to his magical ability to hide under pigs. Cameras on Elysium can see everything on Earth, but no one wants to look at swine. Kroger has flying mini cameras of his own, but Max throws rocks at them and they all die.

Then Max gets the idea that he could maybe force Kroger to take him to Elysium, so he baits Kroger to the ground and boards his ship with a live grenade. During the flight, he and Kroger have a kerfuffle and the grenade blows off Kroger's nose, which is to say his whole face.

Max Damon lands safely on Elysium and instantly begins breaking into the many, empty mansions that dot the horizon (almost all the citizens are attending an Andrea Bocelli performance). Each has a tanning bed that rids you of disease, but Max cannot use them because his exo-suit makes him too bulky.

Meanwhile, a faceless Kroger grows his face back. Burning for revenge, he dons an exo-suit of his own and goes after Damon. Again, the exo-suit does not have a primary function besides just looking cool and imbuing its wearer with extra confidence.

Meanwhile meanwhile, that warlord guy, Spider, puts a couple vital things together. One: he figures out the value of what's in Max Damon's head. And two: he realizes that with Kroger off-world, he can fly up to Elysium no sweat. So he does that. One of his goons asks if he wants to put on an exo-suit too, and they all share a little laugh.

Back on Elysium, the chief of police is pretty pissed at Rhodes for this huge mess she failed to prevent. She reminds him how this whole thing is really a result of pussyfooting bureaucrats, and he responds by demanding her gun and badge. She tosses them on the desk, slams the office door so hard the glass breaks, pulls a back-up gun out of her stockings, and meets up with her inside man, Kroger, to get some shit done.

Unfortunately, she forgets that Kroger is at heart just another dirty Earthling. As soon as he learns what's in Max Damon's head, he stabs Rhodes in the neck and begins making plans to takeover Elysium, or as he calls it, FookCity.

So while Kroger goes around killing Elysiums by literally blowing his bad breath in their faces, Spider lands his spaceship and begins tracking down Max Damon, who he finds just as he's about to break into his 400th empty mansion hoping beyond hope that this is the one that houses a fat guy.

Spider tells Max that if he uploads his brain into the Elysium hard drive, it will solve all his problems. So he does it. And it kills him.

But it works! The doors of Elysium are open for all! Before you know it, ship upon ship filled with sick criminals lands on Elysium. Kroger's still out there killing everyone he sees, but Hey! it's a dog-eat-dog world. It only takes FookCity two hours to run out of water, food, and electricity, after which it crashes into Earth, creating a fireball that sets the overpopulation crisis back a good twenty years.

(three stars)