“Elysium” (2013): A Perfect World for the Rich

“Elysium” (2013): A Perfect World for the Rich

There will always be a disparity between the rich and the poor. We have seen new gated communities established to create a divide between the wealthy and the downtrodden. Although we currently see a reawakened push to make space habitable for humans, Neill Blomkamp was already way ahead in 2013.

Elysium is a dystopian science film set in the year 2154. With the earth polluted and overpopulated, humans created a habitable orbiting space station named Elysium. On Elysium, there are AI-controlled Med-Bays capable of diagnosing and treating any known disease of man. However, admission into the city is strictly based on the size of one’s bank account.

The story follows Max, an Armadyne Corp laborer, who is exposed to radiation and given five days to live. With the poor confined to earth, Max finds a way to get into Elysium for treatment. He’s also hellbent on making Elysium accessible to the occupants of earth.

Released in August 2013, the film was critically acclaimed and did modestly at the box office. It grossed $286.1 million on a budget of $115 million. However, critics felt the movie fell short of Neill Blomkamp’s standard, especially when compared to his 2009 District 9 film.

Here’s a recap of Elysium through the eyes of the movie’s characters.

Max Da Costa (Matt Damon)


Credit: Elysium

Matt Damon plays the movie’s main protagonist, Max Da Costa. Max is born into a world where the poor and suffering are forced to live on earth while the rich live in Elysium—a city without war, crime, and sickness.

Max was brought up in an orphanage where he befriends Frey. Looking up at the beautiful city of Elysium, a young Max promises Frey he will one day take her up to Elysium. Well, life happened. Years later, the movie continues with Max now on probation and working as a laborer for Armadyne Corp.

His world comes crashing down when he gets exposed to radiation in one of Armadyne Corp factories. After being given only five days to live, Max gets desperate and looks for any means necessary to get to Elysium for treatment. His search takes him to a renowned hacker, Spider.

Max loses all, in the end, to ensure he provides treatment for Frey’s daughter. He also sends medical help to all humans on earth in need of it.

Defense Secretary Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster)


Credit: Elysium

Jodie Foster plays the movie’s antagonist, Defense Secretary Jessica Delacourt. She is responsible for ensuring Elysium stays safe and secure for its occupants. To accomplish that, she ensures there are no unauthorized entries or immigrants into the orbiting city.

Delacourt gets a bit over-ambitious when she seeks to overthrow Elysium’s government and install herself as its president. To do this, she solicits the help of John Carlyle, CEO of Armadyne Corp. She offers his company a lifetime defense contract to help carry out a successful coup.

Frey Santiago (Alice Braga)


Credit: Elysium

Frey Santiago is Max Da Costa’s childhood friend. They met at the orphanage where they both grew up. When Max gets injured after he and Julio get ambushed by Agent Kruger, he takes refuge with Frey.

Frey’s a qualified nurse but has a daughter with cancer. Kruger would kidnap Frey and her daughter to lure Max to submit the data. Max does everything within his power to make sure Frey’s daughter gets the required treatment for her cancer through Elysium’s Med-Bay.

Agent M. Kruger (Sharlto Copley)


Credit: Elysium

When Defense Secretary Jessica Delacourt discovers Max has stolen the data from Carlyle, she commissions Agent Kruger to go and recover it. Kruger is a psychological killer who would use any means necessary to get his target. As a black ops agent, he goes above and beyond to track down Max.

John Carlyle (William Fichtner)


Credit: Elysium

William Fichtner plays John Carlyle, the CEO of Armadyne Corp. His company designed and built the orbiting space station Elysium. Max is employed in his company when he gets exposed to radiation.

For a promise of a lifetime contract on Elysium, Carlyle agrees to work with Delacourt to overthrow the government. To do this, he writes a program and stores it in his brain. Unfortunately, things don’t go according to plans, as Max and Julio intercept Carlyle. During the confrontation, Carlyle is killed, and Max takes the data from his head.

Spider (Wagner Moura)


Credit: Elysium

Spider is a thorn in the side of Defense Secretary Jessica Delacourt. As a hacker, Spider is able to run flights to Elysium from the Earth. He’ll work with Max to get him to Elysium and send Med-Bays down to earth.

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