Elysium, written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, was released in 2013. The plot takes place during the year 2154 on earth (a big happy slum) and the space station Elysium (ghetto for the very wealthy). The storyline is straightforward and the actors’ play is spot on. Jodie Foster as Delacourt, Matt Damon as Max da Costa, Wagner Moura as Spider or Sharito Copley as Kruger to quote only a few. In other words, the planets seem to be aligned for some good computer & code action. And it is the case! Let’s start with computers. As expected in 2154, computers are omnipresent and dematerialized. Which really means that we will not see much of them. Just two laptops in the disguise, and remarkably, a vintage PC power supply! You can spot the latter on Spider’s desk when Max is begging him to get a pass for Elysium. In the same sequence – a bit earlier –, a monitor shows the Death Star (at least, it really looks like an Easter egg to me;-)). That’s all folks for the computers. The code is a very different story. There is plenty of it (shell scripts). For example, when Spider hacks the airlocks on Elysium to reach the central computer with Max. Good effort from the production: two ASCII spiders are visible in the header comment block. Even a Use last heuristic option is present. But the pièce de resistance is when the Armadyne CEO John Carlyle (William Fichtner) writes some x86 assembler live to help Delacourt to carry out a coup. How? By typing OR EBX, PE_BIT to enter the CPU in protected mode. No dice, Carlyle is really good! But he is not the only one. When Spider stares at a monitor where the BIN file of the assembled code scrolls at high speed, he understands in less than five seconds that the bits extracted from Max’s head is the real stuff and it will reboot Elysium. Chapeau l’Artiste! If you wonder if the ASM is valid or BS, you should know that it is a real code. It can be found in the Intel® 64 and IA-32 Architectures Software Developer’s Manual Combined Volumes: 1, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4 (PDF – Vol. 3A 9-17 – pp. 2999-3004) in a bootstrap sample. The production morphed the code a bit: offset lines by 1523 and replaced the ASM legal comment character ; with ,. Elysium is yet another movie for which the production team went the extra mile to infuse some technical acumen. Thank you!
1 thought on “Reboot the Space Station”
As I recall the boot sequence also used brought up Oracle software.