For most of its running time, Neil Blomkamp’s Elysium is a uniquely well-conceived futuristic action thriller. It is set in 2154, in a slowly-corroding world that realistically imagines what our current society will look like when aged forward 14 decades. The technology is familiar, even when it’s elaborate. The characters make recognizably human-like decisions. The whole world appears to operate in a familiar manner, with a struggling underclass striving for a better life while a corporate uber-class jealously guards its decadent lifestyle. Elysium is like a third-world race-against-time thriller written by David Simon, with some robots sprinkled in. It is realistic, grounded, thought-provoking.
Until the ending.
Let’s set the stage here a bit, because the roots of Elysium‘s curiously silly final act appear early. (Spoilers from here.)