The Gist: In the future, humanity is strictly divided into two classes: the super-rich live luxuriously in a space station hovering the planet called Elysium, while the rest scramble to survive on the surface of an over-populated Earth whose resources have been all but exhausted. After a grave accident at work leaves him radiation poisoned, Max realizes his only chance of surviving is in one of Elysium's medical bays, which are not accessible to his kind. Meanwhile, the Secretary of Defense is plotting a coup against the President, but Max's quest for salvation will interfere with her plans.
When Neill Blomkamp burst onto the scene with Oscar nominated District 9, he earned a reputation as a visionary director of sci-fi movies with a bleak bent and a powerful social commentary.
He tries to repeat that formula with Elysium, but perhaps a bit too closely. They're two different tales, but many visual elements and script-hooks are similar.
Matt Damon and Jodie Foster do a pretty good job, along with Sharlto Copley and William Fichtner. Visual effects, costumes, and production design are all top notch.
The Bottom Line: Elysium, in spite of its shortcomings, is a well told, entertaining story that talks about a rich/poor divide that's very much current, with a lot of action and some thrilling chases. I would recommend it after all.