Well, this is beginning to look like a boy/girl thing -- sorry, fellas, but I have to side with the ladies on this one. The movie was a big disappointment to me, and frankly I don't understand all the enthusiasm it has generated. Oh, there were plenty of good things in it, a number of them quite scary (such as the fact that English is no longer the primary language spoken in L.A.). Matt Damon pretty much carried the movie; it was a big role and he handled it well. Jodie Foster (she of the aforementioned great haircut) didn't have much to do; hers was a one-dimensional role. But I was happy to see she has abandoned that clenched-cheeks, unmoving-lips way of speaking she'd used in recent movies.
But Elysium is a derivative movie; I expected something more from the writer/director of District 9. The haves living on orbiting habitats while the have-nots were stuck on a dying earth -- that's a cyberpunk trope, first presented some forty years ago. As is the picture of a world openly run by corporations instead of governments, and sockets in people's skulls, etc. The hero's days are numbered because of radiation poisoning, just like in Gattaca and Crank. Those medical healing machines -- remember the sarcophagi in SG-1? Inception interrupted scenes at key moments to insert flashbacks in brighter colors than present-day scenes -- so does Elysium. And so on.
By the way, does anybody here believe it's possible to bring down a way of life by changing the word "illegal" to "legal" in a computer? No firewalls, no red flags, nothing?
Cyberpunk was short-lived as a movement, but it certainly left its mark, didn't it? Themes, images...everything but language. The language in those stories was succinct, image-rich, and sometimes cryptic, to force readers to read carefully. I don't know of a movie that's attempted that.