Tone, Dudebros, it determines everything. From dates, to dinner, to fucking to storytelling. Tone decides the outcome if people will have a good time or a bad time. Especially in film. I bet, sometimes, you walk out of a flick disappointed, a little confused, something was off about what you saw and you couldn’t quite pit your finger on it. Well my friend, I almost guarantee you the problem was tonal imbalance.
It’s hard to pin point. Sometimes it’s something small like an ill timed joke in a comedy. It could be something huge like an overly serious comic film. Or, sometimes it’s even worse, like a misplaced happy ending onto a bleak sci-fi drama. Guess the fuck what? Elysium totally falls victim to the latter.
So Elysium is all about Jason Borne tie traveling to a shitty future where shitty rich people take shits on shitty poor people. The shitty poor people steal and explode things, can’t hate their game. And the shitty rich people get healthcare. That makes Time Traveling Jason Borne all angry and shit. So he’s like, “Fuck these shitty rich people. I’m gonna go murder Time Traveling French Accented Clarice Starling.”
So it goes. Some robots get disintegrated. And humans lose their lives in amazingly shot, violent set pieces. It’s seriously rad. I was literally in the theater, pulling down my pants, and yanking on my giant twelve-inch dick. It’s exactly what summer movies should be: fun, violent, and meaningful.
Yet, toward the last act, shit changes. The tone switches and, frankly, it robs a lot of the preceding action of any meaning. Now, don’t worry, I won’t spoil things. I’ll merely mention that Elysium is not a happy movie. It’s dark and depressing. That’s the tone that was set up in the first two acts. So, in the last act, when things suddenly become less dark and depressing, it feels disingenuous.
And, sure, I’m sure those of you who have seen the film could argue that the ending is closer to “bitter sweet” than “full on happy.” But we’ll just be arguing semantics at that point. Yeah, sure, Disney cartoons don’t fly out of Jason Borne’s butt and sing show tunes. It doesn’t get that happy. But it gets happy enough for there be a disruption in tone.
So, there’s a lot to love here. Great cast. Flawless action. And a strong story idea. Unfortunately it falls apart under the weight of an alarmingly dreary tone and a fairly upbeat ending.