Monday, August 12, 2013


Five bucks if you can place Jodie Foster's accent in the likely Razzie nominee "Elysium," and if you can find a worse performance in her forty-year filmography, make it a tenner.
Foster plays the power-mad Secretary of Defense of the human society of 2154, divided between the sick, hungry and overcrowded have-nots down here on Earth and the monied and disease-free country-clubbers up on Elysium, which looks vaguely like Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago.

The writers' cheap shortcut to an actual dystopian vision of the future is to show us a couple of CGI-enhanced panoramas and have all the computer interfaces say cold, inhuman things to the citizens of Earth in the modulated singsong of an automated CSR. As with so many of this year's equally loud and brain-dead sci-fi flicks, "Elysium" pads its runtime to grotesque length with ten- to twenty-minute-long fistfights between men in body armor and Kevlar suits. 

You're left to wonder whether Foster's character is motivated solely by delusions of grandeur. She adverts to certain criticisms of the regime in power, but what exactly they're doing wrong (or she'd do better) remains a mystery. As Max Da Costa, the put-upon Earthling willing to risk being shot out of the sky to make it to a disease-curing Elysium body scanner, the always reliable Matt Damon tries to bring some levity to a movie that thuds with earnestness.

But out of a packed auditorium at the Landmark Friday night, I doubt a handful of people would tell you they'd had a good time. "Elysium" just isn't a movie you enjoy, except when it careens into unintentional camp (as when Foster opens one scene by yelling at her top henchman, "You eediot!"; Ren and Stimpy would be proud). And by the end, when all is well and the sick children of Earth race for sick bay, you realize (without reading from Tea Party talking points) that you've been watching a two-hour commercial for Obamacare.

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