Conservative and liberal commentators alike have remarked on the obvious and self-conscious symbolism of Elysium. The whole thing hinges on what Milton Friedman deplored as "building a highway to Fort Knox": give non-citizens access to public benefits for doing us the favor of showing up and they won't stop coming when there are no more jobs to be had; they simply won't stop coming.
Many political buzzwords are shoehorned into the script, and even on my first viewing they stuck out like a sore thumb. Drew Zahn at WorldNetDaily briefly sums up the many ways the movie telegraphs what social issues you are to have in mind as you watch the film:
For starters, if the human-smuggling ships that try to reach Elysium were called “unauthorized ships” or “unwelcome ships,” it would fit an apolitical story. But when they’re called “undocumented ships” … the allusion to today’s illegal immigration debate is obvious. . . . Furthermore, if the unauthorized people who landed on Elysium were called “invaders” or “intruders,” it could be an apolitical movie. But when they’re called “illegals”? Who do you think they’re talking about?
And when “deportation” ships send the “illegals” who came on “undocumented” vessels home – and when everyone on earth speaks Spanish, while the language is unheard on Elysium – this isn’t coincidence. This is a political statement.
And finally, when Elysium’s military guardian justified her “homeland security” border-enforcement brutality by saying she was jusjust “protecting our liberty,” it made no sense in the context of the film, but was clearly put there as a snide slap at tea-party types [or possibly to capitalize on lingering anti-Bush sentiment], some of the last people in this country who even remember what “liberty” means.