Neil Blomkamp’s follow up to the excellent District 9 came out this past weekend and has already made roughly a zillion dollars at the box office.

A lot of times, in big-budget Hollywood films, there are dumb elements that make you wonder how none of the hundreds of people involved in making the film pointed out what a bad idea they were.

Here is a list of the dumbest plot elements in Elysium.

Max’s Accident

  1. Max’s supervisor forces him to go into the radiation chamber to dislodge the pallet that is stuck in the door track. Max expresses reluctance to do so. The supervisor forces Max to go in against his wishes, and then immediately disappears. Good job not hanging around for 30 seconds in case someone needed to hit the emergency stop switch, guy.
  2. The switch that closes the door apparently also activates the lethal radiation, allowing Max to be trapped inside the chamber. Any piece of equipment like that would require a second button press after the door was closed, from outside the chamber, to activate the radiation.
  3. Once the door is closed, the radiation chamber gives an organic matter detected alert but just goes ahead blasting the lethal radiation anyway. What is the point of that sensor?

Elysium Security

  1. Most of Elysium’s security seems dedicated to preventing Earth citizens from breaking into Elysium homes in order to use the med pods that appear to be standard issue on Elysium. It is never explained why there are no med pods on Earth or why Elysium’s savvy business people wouldn’t take the opportunity to charge Earth people a handsome sum in order to use the med pods rather than risking constant security breaches.
  2. The passengers of the first few ships that attempt to land on Elysium are either shot down or immediately apprehended. However, when Spider and his crew land on Elysium, they are somehow undetected and allowed to simply walk away from their ship un-pursued. This is apparently due to it being “night” when Spider and his crew land, despite “daylight” on Elysium being completely artificial.


  1. The entirety of Elysium can be shut down with a single program, written in x86 assembly language. The citizens of Elysium appear to blindly follow the computer system if it starts reporting a new president unexpectedly.
  2. Despite the reference to the reboot program consisting of multiple exabytes of low-level assembly code (which would take many, many lifetimes to write), several people are able to tell exactly what it is just by glancing at one screen of code for a second. That’s one or two screens out of at least 1,073,741,824 gigabytes of text (one exabyte). And yet they were not able to write the program themselves despite this level of familiarity with the system.
  3. Hardly any use is made of the exo-suits worn by both Max and Krueger, outside of using them to deflect sword blows.
  4. Elysium’s citizenry built multiple fully-automated med-pod shuttles that could be dispatched to Earth at the touch of a button, but then refuses to do so for unexplained reasons.

All in all, it was an entertaining movie, but silly issues like these kept it from being really great in my opinion. Most of them would be an easy fix or could be explained by a minor addition to the script, which makes it surprising that nobody caught any of this stuff during the production of the movie.

It has a refreshingly relevant thesis about wealth inequality at the core of it however, so it’s hard to be too down on it. Certainly more worthwhile than the Transformers movies or whatever.