There are two perfect things on display in the trailer for “Elysium”: The eponymous space station where Earth’s wealthiest citizens live comfortably and Matt Damon’s muscles, which he flexes repeatedly as his character Max fights to get up there.
In the first clip from “District 9” director Neill Blomkamp’s eagerly anticipated follow-up, Damon squares off with Jodie Foster and a decidedly dingy-looking Sharlto Copley against the backdrop of a universe where the haves and have-nots literally live worlds apart.
Watch the new trailer for Elysium right here:
In the film, Damon plays a blue-collar worker who hatches a plan to infiltrate Elysium after suffering an accident at work that leaves him with days left to live. Foster plays the overseer of the orbiting paradise, who enlists Copley’s character, a ruthless Earth-bound black-ops soldier, to stop Damon at all costs.
Much like in “District 9,” Blomkamp’s latest film explores socioeconomic issues even as it offers pulse-pounding action. Damon dons robotic armor that grants him superhuman strength, but the technology he uses still pales in comparison to the high-tech robots that monitor Earth’s citizens, and he uses it to gain access to healthcare that is only available to the wealthy.
“When I saw ’D9,’ I felt like, ’Man, this guy, he’s created this world that I recognize but I’ve never seen before,” Damon told MTV News of Blomkamp last year at San Diego Comic-Con. “And yet [the film is] performance-based too. Those performances are really good. He clearly knows how to work with actors. This is really great. And so when this kind of fell into my lap, there was no way I was going to turn it down.”
The “Elysium” footage offers both world-building details (shots of the “2001”-esque space station and the dirt-poor slums on Earth below) and promises of visceral thrills — again, hallmarks of Blomkamp’s work, not to mention precisely the sort of substantive combination that would attract high-caliber talent such as Damon and Foster. But the question remains: Will Max only help himself, or will his private rebellion upset the balance of power between the ruling class and the laborers who struggle for survival?
“Elysium,” which is being released by Sony Pictures, hits theaters August 9.