Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
ASKING Michael Bay to direct an intelligent science fiction thriller
is rather like using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut - it just
doesn't work but the carnage is spectacular.
Hence, the guy who turned the potential destruction of the world
into a theme park adventure in Armageddon, and who managed to
trivialise the events of Pearl
Harbor, now gets to tackle the issue of human cloning in The
The result is something of a clone itself - an outlandish sci-fi
thriller that borrows heavily from many other films, as well as
the director's own back catalogue.
Taken on its own terms, the film is an enjoyable romp; a classic
example of style over substance that does, at least, hint at something
to stimulate the brain.
The first half, especially, establishes an intriguing vision
of the future that poses more questions than it ultimately cares
Set in the mid-21st Century, it finds Ewan McGregor's Lincoln
Six-Echo and Scarlett Johansson's Jordan Two-Delta inhabiting
an apparent utopia - a carefully controlled environment where
everyone wears identical white uniforms and exists on a stress-free,
ultra polite basis.
The inhabitants are made to believe they are the only survivors
of 'the contamination' of the world and want for nothing - their
diet is strictly regulated, their relationships are monitored
and even their dreams can be checked and deciphered.
What's more, each occupant clings to the possibility that they
might one day be selected for 'The Island', an apparent paradise
they can secure for themselves if they win the daily lottery.
The truth, however, is much more
sinister. The Island is a fabrication and 'winning' a trip invariably
Why? Because the occupants in question are clones who are grown
to produce body parts for their rich human counterparts in the
event of illness or injury.
When Lincoln Six-Echo discovers this on the eve of Jordan Two-Delta's
'departure', he breaks free from the community with Jordan in
tow in a bid to survive and expose the whole operation.
The ensuing adventure is pretty much one long chase sequence
that plays down the sci-fi in favour of explosive action.
Bay has long been a dab hand at creating big-screen carnage on
the grandest scale and even without the presence of Jerry Bruckheimer
as producer, does so with aplomb.
A freeway chase, in particular, is brilliantly orchestrated,
even though it recalls instant memories of both The
Matrix Reloaded and Bad Boys
The film as a whole also looks fantastic, successfully creating
a vision of the future that is all too believable (much like Minority
But whereas a director of Steven Spielberg's calibre can effectively
balance great set pieces with thought-provoking human drama, Bay
seems unable to do both at the same time.
His characters lack any real depth and aren't given much time
to develop, while the villains are pretty straight-forward and
beyond redemption (Sean Bean filling the breach on this occasion).
Taken at face-value, therefore, The Island ticks all the right
boxes in terms of providing popcorn-friendly entertainment, tickling
the brain rather than taxing it.
Just don't expect its intelligence to be anything other than
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US reaction and box office