After seeing the movie District 9 several years ago, like many people, I had high hopes for Neill Blomkamp’s second outing as the director of Elysium. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. If I could sum it up, the movie was one big wasted opportunity.
For Elysium, Blomkamp had come up with another great idea that was timeless and yet also made hay of our current awareness of income inequality, a lackluster health care system, and climate change. Yet after coming up with a terrific premise and framework for the story, he somehow decided to make a movie that was thin on character development, nuance, sophisticated dialogue, a sense of pace, and all of those things that basically make a good movie. Instead there was a focus on the weaponry of the future, and a rather lame plot that a fifth grader could have come up with.
But the part that nearly made me want to walk out of the theater was near the end, when Matt Damon engages in hand-to-hand combat with the main bad guy. I felt angry. Why would a person who is clearly creative, choose what has to be one of the most worn cinematic scene types? It certainly must be part of the screenwriting zeitgest described in Save the Cat: The Last Book of Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need. Time and time again we see this shit, and I really don’t know if there’s any way to make hand-to-hand combat emotionally resonate with me or even seem realistic. Why do characters’ highly sophisticated guns always fail when it comes to the main bad guys? I know that we are (in theory!) investing time in these characters, and thus can’t off them so easily for want of a more interesting plot– but come on! Entertain me! DON’T GIVE ME THIS BORING SHIT ANYMORE. That’s what I felt like saying as I walked out and made an oath to so in every other faux-climatic hand-hand combat scene I see in the future.
If you enjoy these scenes and there’s something I’m missing, please let me know!