I loved it. It was perfect.
I suppose others might find plot holes and logic gaps but, for me it worked out just the way I wanted it to. To me, the message wasn't at all heavy handed. There are villains but they had such short lives you really couldn't focus all your anger just on them.
- Kruger is a bully and a vicious, reprehensible thug and you really feel glad when the bastard finally goes down but, to me, he was just a dog on a chain.
- Delacourt, the Defense Secretary, holds Kruger's leash. She is an ambitious coup plotter, for all kinds of reasons, but mostly because she's tired of the ones that hold her leash. Then she gets hoisted on her on petard and dies as everything charlie foxtrots.
- Carlyle is a heartless, anticeptic CEO of a defense company, with ruthless employee relations, but the plot reveals his company is bleeding red ink and, by appealing to his greed, is used by Delacourt to do something incredibly risky. He pays for this by dying fairly early on and being reduced to a mere vector for a plot device.
- President Patel, supposedly is in charge of it all, but he barely gets any screen time aside from wacking Delacourt back into line and worrying about public opinion on the station. His ineffectualness is made plain towards the end of the movie.
No bad guys last very long in this movie. My theory is that Blomkamp didn't really want the audience to focus all their anger on any one person but instead wanted to show us that the entire system was broken.
He does this literally by having Max Dacosta, the hero, load an OS changing virus and forcing a reboot of the Elysium station's administrative computers. Maybe that's a flaw I don't know. It does stretch plausibility to think that they'd design a system with a single point of failure like that but I think Blomkamp is just playing with metaphors here:
- society is broken,
- forcibly shut it down,
- fix the laws
- and reboot it.
Instead Blomkamp just showed us instead of telling us and then just kept the rollercoaster going until the movie was over. It's my feeling that he didn't leave you many quiet places in the film to think about what the deeper issues. Perhaps he did this from keeping us from spotting flaws in his story. Or maybe it he did it intentionally to throw the very few quiet moments into sharp relief.
For example, there really is only one explicit speech in the film and it's not even a speech. It's the half mumbled story about a meerkat and a hippopotamus and it's told by Frey's six or seven year old daughter—pure Sesame Street, "let's cooperate" stuff. This is told during one of the few quiet moments in the film. In this sharp relief, Blomkamp is saying, "Okay, let's settle down a moment and really listen to and think about what this kid saying."
In a way, it's like he's mocking all the sophisticated rationalizations and excuses that Wall Street analysts, World Bank executives and the Cato Institute talking heads give to us about how greed can be harnessed for a positive force.
To which Blomkamp counters with: What's the first thing they teach you in kindergarten? How to SHARE. And with that childlike clarity blows away mountains of adult rationalizations.
Maybe it's all preaching to the converted for me, I don't know. Is the society depicted contrived, sure, but this is satire. When it get's down to it, the societies in 1984 and Starship Troopers are contrived too. It's fiction trying to make a point. Are there more effective movies that cover the class warfare message more effectively than Elysium? Perhaps.
Norma Rae and Wall Street are pretty obviously films about class and wealth. The original Alien movie had a class warfare angle—space truckers get suckered into being illegal guinea pigs for alien biological weapons by some faceless corporation—the android Ash said as much.
I guess it might be considered heavy handed insofar if you remove the massive wealth divide, the story falls apart. Class warfare is an essential element to the story. Without it, the story ceases to exist. But it's my opinion that Blomkamp did a pretty good movie about class warfare just by showing, not telling.