Day 45, No. 45. Max Da Costa

Matt Damon ElysiumHAIRCUT 100: Day 45, No. 45. Max Da Costa (played by Matt Damon) in Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium (2013), a tragic working class hero who fights his way to an elite space habitat to save himself, but ends up dying to redeem the sick and poor of the ravaged earth instead. As with Blomkamp’s previous dystopian movie, District 9, Elysium explores resource depletion, overpopulation, immigration, and, most importantly, social class. In a classic science fiction archetype that looks more like reality by the year, the rich exploit and abandon the poor in a Dickensian technocracy, while living in luxury with the health and longevity that extreme wealth provides, killing or deporting any refugees from the overcrowded and polluted surface that comes anywhere near them. Orphan and reformed car thief Max has longed to escape to Elysium his whole life and, when fatally injured in an industrial accident, he accepts one last criminal job that might get him there in the hope of finding a cure…

This is a movie that looks great, with a strong premise ultimately flawed by an unrealistic resolution. South African director Blomkamp himself has admitted that, ‘I feel like I fucked it up,’ which makes me admire him even more as a filmmaker. That said, it’s worth it for Sharlto Copley’s ‘Kruger,’ a mad cyborg mercenary not a million miles away from the Street Preacher in William Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic (a film which shares some other plot devices with Elysium), and an understated and honest performance from Damon as the everyman hero, Max. Elysium remains a powerful and prophetic allegory of the class war, with some good bald jokes thrown in. ‘What’s in the bag?’ a robot policeman asks Max during a stop and search. ‘Hair care products, mostly,’ he replies. I might have to pinch that line myself…

 

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