Elysium ★★☆☆☆ Shallow & noisy

Uneven distribution of wealth will be extreme in the future, and movies about it in the present will be shallow and noisy (Elysium, director Neill Bomkamp, starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharito Copley). Like most high-budget science fiction, Elysium starts with a tantalizing, vividly depicted premise, but then it backs itself into a corner in the second act, which it tries to get out of with massive doses of deus ex machina and explosives. Elysium has all the narrative nuance of a grenade, and it degenerates into a long list of logistical absurdities and missed opportunities. (Jodie Foster is utterly wasted in a role that consists of barely more than one scene establishing her as a radically hawkish defense minister.) I can do suspension of disbelief, but I require a film to meet me in the middle and avoid things that force me to roll my eyes. This one wraps up with a solution to all the world’s problems — and I’m not making this up — by rebooting the computer that controls everything … with new, more egalitarian code!

Sound bad? Oh, it’s worse: we get to see the exact line of code that is changed to give all humanity access to all the cool technology. What a relief to know the future will be so easy to solve! Well, there’s your problem right there — see, only the rich have access! Shameful! Let’s see, do-dee-do, tappety-tap-tap … ah, much better now!

Paradise in orbit, crap in the theatre