Radiation Hazard: 5 Absurd Plot Holes In Elysium

Elysium9 Radiation Hazard: 5 Absurd Plot Holes In Elysium

I want to make things clear. I did not and have not watched Neill Blomkamp’s District 9. There, I said it. As much of a science fiction fanatic as I am, I admit to never have seen the film many believe to be instrumental in the future of science fiction films. Perhaps I will see it someday, but for now, and for this article, I believe it puts me in a desirable position to critique Elysium.

To truly view a film for what it is, you have to remain neutral, and not let anything outside the film influence your thinking. With that said, I really enjoyed Elysium and was surprised at how well done and captivating it was. The pacing was magnificent with just enough to get your adrenaline going, but not peaking, until the climax. I only mention these positive aspects because I’m about to tear the film to shreds.

One of the most important things when writing science fiction is to create a consistent world with rules that govern themselves. It needs to be believable, empathic, and (oddly enough) logical. Suspension of belief takes a huge role for the audience because we are forced to forget the practicality of our current world and transfer ourselves into this foreign one. A huge habitat in outer space? No questions asked. An attachable exoskeleton being drilled into someone? Psh, whatever. Even a panacea-like medical pod? No one bats an eye.

However, as with every science fiction film, there are some things that are simply too bizarre,or too lousy, to forgive. Things that make the audience question the world, which momentarily breaks the immersion into a film. The following are five points that made me break back into reality when watching Elysium, if only for a few seconds.

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5) Exoskeleton: Pointless and misleading

Elysium2 Radiation Hazard: 5 Absurd Plot Holes In Elysium

This one is not so much a plot hole as it is a waste of time. After spending so much energy marketing how life-changing the exoskeleton was going to be for Max, it ended up being just a hunk of metal that happened to be drilled into him. Seriously, after it was attached, it was as if Max was walking around like he didn’t have it on and no one seemed to give a damn.

Perhaps these exoskeletons are common? If it was, there was certainly no mention of it. How about the fact that Max barely used it except as a handy and lousy way to deal with a few things. He blocked a sword swing once and was able to detach himself from Kruger at the end, but that’s it. They couldn’t think of anything more creative to show us? I was waiting for that moment, but never got it.

I know that the film wasn’t about the exoskeleton and that perhaps the producers are to blame for marketing and hyping it up, but either way, it serves no purpose in the overall story. The only part of the exoskeleton that has standing is the thing in Max’s brain, but even that could have been just that, solely a thing attached to Max’s brain. Maybe there’s some deeper meaning to the contraption. Actually, I hope there is and I hope someone can tell me the point of it other than being a disappointing… thing.

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4) Radiation: No fail-safe?

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Ah, the world of Elysium, complete with a giant hovering space station with swooping gardens and crystal clear structures. A world so advanced that robots easily handle any problems that us humans just don’t want to do. So why in the hell does a simple radiation chamber not have a fail-safe or even a lock of sorts to keep the door open? Or why didn’t Max find something to keep it open? Better yet, why the hell do robots need to be blasted by radiation? Okay, maybe there’s a scientific reason for that last one, but as an audience, we’re not expected to know the dictionary of uses for radiation.

I kept thinking the entire time, “There isn’t an easier, safer way to do this?” Granted, we all know what’s coming, which does create a little suspense, but it’s yet again a lousy way to move the story. I honestly would have been just fine without the whole five-days-to-live-go-all-out device as the entire beginning showed just how desperate Max wanted to go to Elysium.

Or you could say everyone is greedy and didn’t want to install a fail-safe for puny earthlings. But still, why radiation for robots?

3) Code: That easy?

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Man it sure was easy to make a code that could override the entire freaking system of Elysium. So much for advancements.

I enjoyed where they were going with the story, but when Carlyle whipped up the code in what seemed like less than a day, it was just too bizarre and it completely broke my suspension of belief. While I had trouble believing such an advanced society couldn’t make fail-safes, here I had trouble believing that the society could be so advanced that they can override their code in a day.

While it is true that Carlyle is the one who made Elysium, I find it hilarious that there is no jumping over hurdles just to get this code intact. Also, why hasn’t anyone else done it? With how technically proficient Spider was, there had to have been more people who were power hungry enough to want to rule Elysium.

Thankfully, the film picked up quick enough that my brief break in focus subsided, but now that I think about it, it really shouldn’t have been that easy.

2) Elysium: Population? Defenses?

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So, I thought the code was easy to make, but what seemed even easier was how unprotected Elysium really was. I remember hearing in the trailer that it’s supposed to be the most highly guarded place, but then you get these illegal shuttles flying there whenever they damn please? Sure, two out of three of them got shot down in the beginning, but one made it. Also, people wouldn’t be throwing their money at Spider if there wasn’t a proven method of reaching Elysium.

On top of it, Elysium doesn’t seem to have any defenses of its own installed into its own system. Instead, they rely on a guy from Earth to shoot shuttles down, which is fine I guess, but that’s pretty far even for homing missiles. With the amount of people trying to break in, there was a supreme lack of defenses. I think just one shuttle came to the scene when Elysium was invaded both times with the rest of the resistance being Kruger and his men. It is no wonder why people are willing to get caught, because it’s so easy.

Then, when someone finally gets to Elysium, there’s no one there! So much for trying to preserve the population when there’s nothing to preserve except for a few empty mansions. Who the hell is cleaning these mansions anyways? This is more of a criticism of the movie itself, but I would have loved to see Max actually explore Elysium apropos to him just crashing.

The whole concept of Elysium screams plot hole and more lousy writing.

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1) Ending: Political mayhem

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Throughout the entire film, after seeing the state of earth and the state of Elysium, I was with Max in wondering what it would be like if I were to actually live on such a beautiful habitat. Max dreamed of going there with Frey and though the characterization left something to be desired, the one thing I can fully stand behind is Max’s end goal.

Then the actual ending hit and the whole goal turn into “save the unfortunate.” This isn’t wrong in any sense and someone like Max would fight for a cause like this. Being a highly political film, I realize the intention of the criticisms of today’s immigration and healthcare concerns. But there’s one problem: this is science fiction, we’re not supposed to relate it to the real world. Perhaps Blomkamp is known for seamlessly doing so with District 9, but if he tried it again for Elysium, there simply wasn’t enough backing.

So where’s the plot hole? This is supposed to a feel good film with a bittersweet ending. Everyone is happy as can be with the sacrifice of the protagonist. Earth now has universal healthcare, everyone is a citizen of Elysium, and no one has to go home hungry, except they will. Give it a month or two and complete chaos will occur. Elysium will be trashed and horded with overpopulation, the medical pods will be fought and pillaged over, and the have-nots of the world will quickly become the haves, and greedy they will be.

The plot whole is the political criticism because it doesn’t make much sense to speak of freedom for all when it’s all going to be worse in the end. It’s great that Blomkamp thinks equal opportunity regardless of class is fair, but there’s far more to think about than just that. As wrong as it sounds, first world countries would be completely ruined if we brought all the citizens of the third world countries under our care. It’s because of this that the whole film fails to be a political statement.

Whether you agree with these plot holes or not, I’m gonna make it clear again that I enjoyed Elysium. Great pacing, and promising concept, but all the political mishmash felt overly forced and not seamlessly integrated into the film. I believe that with a little more time, this truly could have been something to behold.

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  • Alex McCracken

    Yeah I was never as sold on Elysium’s premise as District 9.

    You should absolutely check that out as it’s such a great anti action movie in a lot of ways. The “hero” is really just a marginally sympathetic ass that gets what’s coming to him.

    It’s one of only twenty movies I own.

  • MrSatyre

    Not a fan of Blomkamp at all. District 9 was about 90 minutes too long. I want to say it was pretentious in the same way you highlight the final, fatal flaw in Elysium, but it was really just overly contrived and not particularly original. You’re not missing anything by not seeing District 9 as you’ve probably read or seen a dozen stories already which contain most (if not all) the same plot elements.

    • Lambo Calrissian

      I agree. Before I saw D9 I was bombarded by the praise of my fellow geeks for the film. How refreshing it was that a new director had created this mindblowing film that would change sci fi forever etc etc. so I watch it. And? I’m like WTF not only is it lame but it’s waaay toi long. Hey I get, the political overtones how the aliens are the blacks in south africa during aparteid, yeah I get that. But it’s actually one of those crappy movies that all the know it all geeks praise cause they think it makes them look edgy. Save your time .

  • Ben

    This is a great article that expressed exactly what I was feeling during the movie!

  • alex

    no one talks about how they create GRAVITY, AIR AND WATER?

    • Marcus

      yeah if he actually read or understood the gene it’s SCIENCE and FICTION…not Science Explanation!!

    • Tuxedo Llamas

      Elysium is a Dyson ring. The gravity comes from Centripetal Force. As far as the water and Air, there have been ways to conserve those for a long time, even if it’s as easy as lush greenery for atmosphere, and a closed filtration system.

      • Timoton Timothy Timoston

        Air is a mixture of gases, and that things wasn’t spinning nearly fast enough to keep anything inside.

  • Fuckyoubitch

    Fucking retards, the exoskeleton gave Max strength to move and rip fucking heads off robots, and download he code, before that he could barely walk due to the radiation! And it’s clear that humans are pieces of meat on earth, that can be replaced by whoever is the most desperate, which explains the fail lock. And 2 out of 3 ships were destroyed and the third were on Elysium for like 2 minutes before they were shipped back! And that last point of yours is shit and you clearly are a little bitch craving attention you fucking cunt

    • Marcus

      good call maybe Andy didn’t really watch the film he probably just skimmed some of the action scenes?

    • Tuxedo Llamas

      Woah man, tone it down.
      But yeah, I’d have to agree with you there. The suit wasn’t made to make him a god, and the line “with this we can override your whole system” wasn’t even in reference to the suit at all. I’d have to blame marketing on that one.
      But in practice, the suit functioned exactly as it should have, keeping him able to move. And essentially with a “suit” that’s just a bunch of pneumatic tubes, that’s about all it could do.

    • LOL

      That was priceless. Thank you for making my night.

  • Marcus

    Not feeling your review Andy! It’s really easy to take shots at specific stuff like the exoskeleton, but something tells me if they had hyped it up more int he movie you’d be here writing how the exoskeleton was too much…Your review doesn’t really skew me to like or dislike the film, but it DOES make me think you yourself need to try and write Science Fiction.

  • jeromerivers

    I strongly agree with the whole set-up for Elysium. No shields, no defenses, and hardly any people! How about the protection against the vacuum of space! Better writing was needed!

    • guest

      The protection against the vacuum works like in Halo, the same centrifugal force that holds the people down holds the air in. It’d be weird taking off or landing though… But yeah, the lack of defenses is really what got me

  • Michael

    Overpopulation was a huge problem with Earth, as it said in the beginning. Now with all these health pods, you have people living longer and overpopulation goes from everyone having a lower quality of life to Soylent Green style implications. The whole plucky socialism vs greedy capitalism subtext doesn’t really take into account that the end result of Max’s action is almost certainly the end of mankind on Earth.

  • Tobberham

    You’re a douche Andy Wong thanks for ruining and otherwise enjoyable popcorn flick by over analysis. You’re job is not helpful it’s cynical your more than welcome to voice your opinion but to think you are smarter than a multimillion dollar film in the end makes you a douche.

  • american mullet

    I had a hard time understanding the failsafe that was built into the reboot code. I may have missed the explanation so chill. But why would the person carrying the code self terminate after uploading the reboot into eylisum . I mean say whats his face never got his brain high jacked. What was his end game. Upload then die. I dont recall them mentioning typing in a code to avert that from happing. Oh well like i said i may have missed it.

    • Lenny d

      Yes you did miss it, when he uploaded it to his brain he selected a lethal failsafe which means only he could exploit it without dying.

  • Lenny d

    ??? The exoskeleton gave him strength to move and walk rip heads off robots and throw people across the room. The guy who wrote the code to bring down elysium was the guy who developed it in the first place so having a backdoor in place and being able exploit it quickly is not that hard to fathom.

    In the film the president make’s it very clear that migrants are to be treated diplomatically and peacefully (it’s a peaceful station) so it does not need or have defences thats why Delacourt has to use a rouge agent and why her staff are so disgusted when she uses him on the ground to destroy the ships.

    Did you not watch the film properly before writing a review?

    The radiation failsafe is about your only decent plot hole, but hey I have seen far worse in most other films. As for the political agenda of if it’s right or not is up for debate and a good film should create debate and get people talking.

    • Lemonpinesol

      I completely agree and I also felt these points where rather obvious. The whole reason they used Kruger to do anything was that he wasn’t attached to the government of Elysium officially so they would not be tied to any war crimes he committed. I mean they even say he was a rapist and a psychopath, do you think civilians and politicians would be ok with that?

  • Korabljenik

    Does the lister even know what the PLOT HOLE is?!

  • Mike Kloiber

    I think whether or not the exoskeleton was over marketed doesn’t really matter. I didn’t go see Elysium for the exoskeleton, so the marketing didn’t win me over with that if that was there intention. The Exoskeleton in Elysium serves the same purpose as the light saber in Star Wars: a New Hope. It is the Weapon of Empowerment. With out that suit it would be impossible for us to believe that a man suffering terminal radiation poisoning could fight the Mechanized Security of an Elysium citizen on earth. Which was the point, Matt Damon’s character was too sick to pull off the job but was one of the only people who was willing to do the job for spider. The fact that it had a nueral interface to go with the device not only serves as a plot device later, but can be accepted as a control interface between the characters brain and the suit.

    There are also some subtle visual clues that the suits are common. We see Kreger outfitted with his original suit, and another even stronger suit (or at least it is implied that it is stronger) in the climax of the movie. We also see one of Kregers guys ask Damon’s character what make and model his exosuit was. Implying that these things are kinda common and mass produced.

    All of that is kind of secondary to it’s point in the plot, which is to give Damon’s character the ability to overcome his trials. Like when luke gets the weapon of a jedi, or when link gets the Master Sword. This movie already established that 1) Elysium is well protected. 2) Elysium citizens on earth are sometimes guarded by Mechanized Guards. 3) These Guards are numorous and probably stronger than a normal human. We know that Damon’s character is sick, and has to become sick to create the real need for Damon’s character (I need to look up his name) can have the motivation to get to Elysium – or atleast make it urgent. So the plot demands something that can level the playing field between Robot Solders and Radiated Max (haha, I did look it up, Go me) or else it becomes unbelievable that Max could of ever taken the Job, or gone toe to toe with any of Elysiums security.

  • http://picasaweb.google.com/JTHolroyd/TileStoneWork JessSayin

    Thank you for taking the words right out of my mouth. It’s good that you didn’t see District 9 which was an AMAZING motion pictue, otherwise you’d be even MORE disappointed. Also, what’s with Jodie Foster’s speech impediment throughout the whole movie? She couldn’t deliver ONE line effectively and she was one of the reasons I went to see this.
    Oh, and you forgot to mention the whole facial-reconstruction scene. Gimme a break!

  • DonDroga

    Elysium was lame

  • Lemonpinesol

    I agree the movie is far from perfect, but the points made in this article make me think the author wasn’t really paying attention when he watched it. Was it not painfully obvious that they made Kruger shoot down the shuttles from earth to avoid a giant political whiplash? Secretary Rhodes, who commanded Kruger, was clearly getting chewed out by her superiors prior too and after the incident. I agree the radiation oven thing was a bit silly, but it was made pretty clear that they did not care about safety or the earthlings in general. Max was a parolee and had his arm broken just for bad mouthing a robot, why would you think they would spend money on safety equipment for a factory that most likely isnt even known to the Elysium populace. We know about sweat shops in other countries with terrible and unsafe working environments, but do we shut them down? Lastly, the exoskeleton which was clearly old(it looked pretty beat up) and taken from someone forcefully no doubt, kept him functioning while he was having multiple organ failure. The guy who put the suit on Max was even surprised he lived through the procedure, so how superhuman can you expect him to be. I agree he could have used it a bit better, but I was under the assumption he was a car thief not a trained soldier who was a master at exoskeleton usage, and he was a pretty damn good shot because of the suit and brain implant. I know apple products are pretty easy to use so maybe super soldier brain computer exoskeleton suits will be plug and play in the future, but then again maybe not? If anything his original mission was to shoot the plain down with the souped up old guns, it reminded me of ghost in a shell where the guy uses the high velocity ammo in his gun and the only reason it doesn’t blow his arms off is because he has cyborg implants. I could be wrong but that made me think the suit’s intended purpose was being able to use the special ammo(which may have had a lot of extra recoil) and accurately hit the shuttle with one shot not to be fist fighting people. His hands just had a few plates on them anyway, that wouldn’t stop them from breaking with all the extra force he would punch someone with. Hopefully this clears some things up for the author as with these points in mind his next viewing of the movie will possibly make a little more sense.

  • Zak A Memory

    Nice way to insert your political beliefs at the end buddy. The disproportionate wealth of the haves is what swallowed up the resources for the have nots. Elysium would need to be restructured yes, but only so like 2 fucking people didn’t have a thousand rooms that they dont need. There were plenty of legitimate plot holes that you missed, say Kruger and his head blown off being fine whereas the CEO with a heart injury was a lost cause. You need to work on remaining “neutral” as you say.

  • Name

    The writer needs to keep his retarded political views to himself. One human is better than other because of money difference? Everyone should have access to health insurance regardless of their class fair!

  • glurge1000

    “this is science fiction, we’re not supposed to relate it to the real world.” Uh, duh.. wrong. Epic FAIL. See Kurt Vonnegut and PK Dick. And George Orwell.

  • #zed0

    “But there’s one problem: this is science fiction, we’re not supposed to relate it to the real world.”

    WHAT??? Thats the whole point of science fiction, it’s analogous to our reality in a fun house mirror sort of way. The BEST of science fiction does this. I respected your opinion and your right to your odd political view till tell you said that. The only thing you “torn to shreds” is your credibility.

  • WhiteLie

    Whoa butt hurt white people hate Elysium because white people are the bad guys. Whenever (Islam/Arabic), Russians, Nazi Germans, Japanese, Africans, South American drug cartels, etc. are bad guys and are killed it’s not a big deal? Just calm down. It’s just a movie. If you look at history, white people consider themselves better off. But if you look at natives (Native Americans, tribes in Africa, etc.) they were okay. Not in the Western traditional sense but had their culture and lived naturally. Now Western medicine says to get more exercise and eat less fat and process food. And technology is making innovations to be more environmental friendly. What the future gonna be like? Lessons are gonna be copied from natives all around the world and history and then labeled “new hip green innovations of Western (white) science”? Ha. Homes will be built from dugouts resembling mud houses but chemically friendly enhanced to ruggedize for domicile use. Cities will disappear and be replaced with more natural aligned structures. Man, racist white people!

  • Yay


  • Yay

    Great review, plus where where the fuck was the army of robots on Elysium? Damn, I’d’ve had the fuckers patrolling round like mother fuckers, pouncing on any bitch that looked cockeyed at me. Really tore through the fourth wall. Not in a good way. Peace out bitches.

  • Van Chandler

    You’re an idiot.

  • agb1953 .

    You have as much style and character as a turd floating in a punch bowl.