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Writer-director Neill Blomkamp's dystopian action picture, set in the mid-22nd century, envisions a society divided between a despoiled Earth populated by oppressed workers and the idyllic satellite of the title where the rich live a life of ease -- and enjoy miraculous medical technology. After a workplace accident exposes him to a lethal dose of radiation, a Los Angeles laborer (Matt Damon) is desperate to reach this orbiting world of privilege where he knows he can be healed. So he agrees to undertake a perilous spying mission for an underground guerilla leader (Wagner Moura) who has the resources to get him there. But the assignment brings him into conflict with the habitat's ruthless secretary of defense (Jodie Foster) and with the brutal mercenary (Sharlto Copley) she uses as a secret agent to keep the downtrodden in line. Well-intentioned but laden with harsh vocabulary and visuals, Blomkamp's film succeeds more as a suspenseful adventure for stalwart grown-ups than as a parable about the plight of immigrants, restricted access to health care and the unequal division of resources.

Watch out for: Much gory violence, some gruesome images, a few uses of profanity, considerable rough and crude language, several obscene gestures.

Rated: L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; MPAA: R, restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2013