You Can Thank Crooked Tijuana Cops for Elysium

Tri Star Pictures

Hairless hero Matt Damon covers this week’s EW in a story about Elysium, Neill Blomkamp’s splashily postapocalyptic follow-up to District 9. And while the whole piece isn’t online yet, the magazine has been kind enough to break off a crucial little nugget of information. Turns out, if Elysium lives up to the promise of its predecessor and its concept — in the future, Earth is all third-world, and fancy people live glamorous, poor-free lives on the titular satellite community — we have to send a big thank-you to the corrupt police department of Tijuana, Mexico.

You see, inspiration for the flick struck years ago, during Blomkamp’s quick visit to TJ with his executive producer while shooting a commercial in San Diego, when Neill was apprehended by some federales for no good reason:

“They got out of the car, threw me onto the hood, cuffed me, took my passport, did the same to my friend and threw us into the back of the car,” Blomkamp says. “They weren’t speaking to us; they just started driving us out of the city.” His exec producer, who was carrying petty cash from their commercial shoot, began rolling up bills and shoving them through the grate that separated the backseat from the front. “When we’d reached some critical mass — $900 or something — they let us out of the car,” Blomkamp says. It was dark, they had no idea where they were, and they had at least a two-hour trek ahead of them. “We were walking through these totally impoverished, insane areas with feral dogs and crying babies and people making fires, and on the horizon I could see the floodlights from the U.S. shining into Mexico, and there were multiple Black Hawks flying the perimeter, and it was like science fiction on Earth,” he says. “Nothing has changed, but now you’re on the other side of the border.” His goal with Elysium, he says, was to put all of us there.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That a movie just about Blomkamp’s walk back to America — snarling dogs! Random-ass fires! — would have been possibly great? Anyway, to confirm: If you do like Elysium, please send all compliments directly to Tijuana PD.

Filed Under: Jodie Foster, Matt Damon

Amos Barshad has written for New York Magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ AmosBarshad