A good propaganda movie doesn’t necessarily have to be subtle in its suggestion, as long as it’s entertaining. That way, people who can see that it’s propaganda won’t care and people who can’t won’t know anyway. And ultimately, all of them will go see it. A great propaganda movie is both entertaining yet quietly and effectively manipulative, but those are rare. Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’ is an example of the former, it’s not subtle propaganda, but it’s entertaining propaganda. Elysium is none of these things. It gets the combination all wrong. It’s not entertaining yet all the while pushes too many political buttons too hard and in the end, that kind of mixture is worse than being just a mediocre movie. It’s patronising without even affording the viewer a good time.
The story is set in the mid 21st century where the 1% live in a luxurious space station (think Fiddler’s Green from Land Of The Dead), the figurative western world, and the rest of humanity lives on earth in squalor, the figurative east and third world, where they break their backs to earn a buck. Naturally, the people in orbit are a rip on Europe and the USA and, to a man, they are all scumbags. The earthlings are by contrast heroic and ill-treated. The premise from the start pushes an anti-border internationalist socialist agenda. The orbit station needs to be smashed and it’s cookie jar shared. The difference between real life and this movie though is that the elite orbit station is the result of the suffering below, it should be removed because it is an injustice, whereas socialists and other mendacious internationalists in real life want rid of borders through nothing less than jealousy and resentment. This movie deliberately leaves out this difference while leaving in the violent solution – get in there and kill ’em all!
A crucial part of the story is that the scumbag orbiters have a technology in their possession to cure any injury or ailment, such as the medical bay seen in Prometheus. This is a less than suggestive nod to O’Bomba and O’BombaCare. Sorry, misspelled his name there, I tend to do that, it is a nod towards Obama and ObamaCare and when Damon is terminally injured at work, he’ll go to any lengths to get to one of the treatment facilities. And so, a practical corpse, he is rigged up to a cybernetic suit to take on the powers that be. It’s here that the movie rips off RoboCop. Dead man walking, half robot, taking on the corrupt? The only difference is that RoboCop had killer satire, it really did ruthlessly and hilariously go after the elite, instead of pushing their kleptocratic agenda, it was a superb script. This movie though is blunt, unfunny and devoid of insight. And should we be surprised that it’s Matt Damon in a socialist movie? Here’s an interesting question, if people like Damon and George Clooney are such believers in ultra-left ideology, why don’t they give up their millions? Sure, they want to send a message, but they sure as fuck don’t want to live it. There’s a term for this kind of person, Champagne Socialist. Look it up. Actually, there are two – MasterCard Marxist would be the second.
Having gotten the propaganda shit out of the way, we finally need to take a look at it’s other failure. This movie is not entertaining. It’s very dull and is so busy lecturing, it forgets all the fun. It’s ugly with gruel cinematography and truckloads of synthetic visuals. It has action, but even that is a categorical failure. It may seem like a cliche to drag this up as a complaint, but the shaking-cam problem is all over this movie, and as long as it shows up in movies, we need to keep opposing it. In fact, it’s so bad in this movie that even basic actions such as walking are poorly shot, where the cameraman ‘for effect’ deliberately refuses to keep up with the actor as he moves. I mean, how the fuck is this acceptable?! Redeeming values then? It’s Rated-R, I wish I could say that counts for something, but does it really? By the end, who cares.
Bald-faced propaganda that is as overt as it is dull, witless and boring.