The Island

  • Michael Bay
  • 2005

LincolnSixEcho (Ewan McGregor) and JordanTwoDelta (Scarlet Johansen) live in a futuristic, fitness centre where people are fed according to a stringent diet and exercised rigorously as if to make them the perfect physical specimen. Humanity is enclosed in the facility and each is waiting solely to win the lottery and be shipped off to the utopic ‘Island.’ Of course, treachery is afoot, and all is not what it seems.

The Island marks director Michael Bay’s sixth action outing with action-guru-producer Jerry Bruckheimer and naturally high tech special effects, extravangant directing, huge expense and helicopters all feature. However, The Island is differentiated because it is the first time they have taken on a storyline that involves a sort of futuristic dystopia. It’s difficult to really tell anything without giving a lot away but think a modern Logan’s Run (Michael Anderson, 1976) given the Bruckheimer/Bay touch.

The Island begins well with a surprisingly impressive storyline that takes a dark stance on modern scientific ethics, human nature and corporate greed. However, after an unpredictable and actually very sinister twist The Island unfortunately plummets into the typically senseless ‘action formula’,introducing not-so ‘bad-ass’ headhunter Albert Laurent (Oscar Nominee Djimon Hounsou), numerous chase sequences and a host of other glorified action cliches.

The Island unfortunately plummets into the typically senseless ‘action formula’

The characters Lincoln and Jordan are educated to the age of 15, giving McGregor and Johansen nothing much to play with. And much of the last third of the film is also clearly geared towards younger elements of the audience, exposing an unfortunate conflict between a commercial action feature and what could otherwise have been a dark and interesting Orwellian nightmare. The glitzy, typically hi-tech chase scenes, although impressively directed, (one especially amazing car chase should be enough to appease most Bruckheimer fans) essentially dig The Island’s grave by rendering the initial plot redundant and a late twist (think Julia Robert’s pretending to be herself in Ocean’s 12) finally fills it.

The Island is typical off-the-production-line Bruckheimer fair, and fans of his recent poor run of films probably won’t be disappointed. However, judicious filmgoers beware. Although initially attractive, The Island turns out to be a dumb whore of a film – energetic, but caked in make-up and lacking brains.

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