Packed to the rafters with action and allegory, the science fiction thriller "Elysium" is set in a dystopian future society where pollution and overpopulation have rendered the planet almost inhabitable. Almost. The lower classes still knock about in slum cities, policed by menacing robots. Those who aren't starving to death labor in factories to provide goods for the wealthy One Percenters, who live in luxury on a giant orbital space station called Elysium.
Matt Damon headlines as Max, a reformed criminal and factory worker among the suffering masses on Earth, circa 2154. When a workplace incident goes awry, Max must make his way up to Elysium to save himself and -- no pressure -- the future of the human race.
In its quieter moments, "Elysium" proves to be a smart and observant film, and it does what all good science fiction tends to do: The film examines contemporary issues -- social, ecological, technological -- and extrapolates them out to the event horizon of the Future. We take a look at the science behind the science fiction. (Warning: Several plot spoilers dead ahead.)