Matt Damon’s Elysium features an Occupy-style story about the rich oppressing the poor, along with a full-throated cry for universal health care and open borders.
Promised Land, Damon’s last film, disparaged the process of fracking through the eyes of a well-intentioned energy salesman.
It’s hard to deny the veracity of either plot description, yet Damon insists in press interviews for both films that neither is political in nature.
Here’s what the Oscar-winner had to say about Elysium, which opens nationwide Aug. 9:
I don’t think it is trying to say anything. It just presents the issue – the distinct difference between the haves and the have nots,” he told FOX411 while promoting the flick. “A science fiction film will work if it is a whole new world, but speaks to the world that we live in, but not in a heavy-handed way. The first order of business for a big summer popcorn movie is to make a kick-ass movie with great action.
This is the same film of which Variety said: “Easier, too, for “Elysium” to advance one of the more openly socialist political agendas of any Hollywood movie in memory, beating the drum loudly not just for universal healthcare, but for open borders, unconditional amnesty and the abolition of class distinctions as well.”
And therein lies the challenge to the 42-year-old actor’s immediate future.
Audiences won’t punish Damon for appearing in liberal films. They may turn on him, though, if he continues being dishonest about said film projects.
Damon’s box office cred already is in trouble. His last solo smash was the 2007 sequel The Bourne Ultimatum, with his supporting turn in 2010’s True Grit also flexing box office muscle. Other recent films, including The Adjustment Bureau, Margaret, Invictus, Green Zone, We Bought a Zoo and Promised Land, ranged from underwhelming to downright duds.
Box office appeal is a finicky thing, and there’s always a new crop of younger actors willing to take roles away from someone like Damon, a genuinely gifted star. It would behoove him to be more honest with the public about his movies. Instead of denying the political implications in his work, he would be better off defending what his films are trying to say.
Perhaps he fears that most of all.