Review: The Island

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  July 22, 2005 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Reviews

Could The Island be that Logan's Run remake we have all been waiting for?

The Island stars Ewan McGregor as Lincoln Six-Echo, a man who lives in a perfect, yet very strict, environment. His utopian world is filled with duties and routines which Lincoln begins to question. How does his perfect world actually operate?

The only real salvation that Lincoln and the people of his controlled world have is a daily lottery where winners are whisked off to the mythical paradise "the island" to live the rest of their lives in freedom. Where is this "island" and what do you do when you get there?

The more questions Lincoln raises, the more he begins to doubt his surroundings, until he learns that he is in fact living a lie and that he is a clone. Lincoln grabs his fellow resident and friend Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson) and they begin to run for their lives. Together they will find out all the secrets that their world hides.

The Island is one of those films that the less you know going in the better the experience it will be. The problem with that kind of film is that it's very hard to market, especially when you have a high-profile director like Michael Bay at the helm.

The opening and experiences that Lincoln Six-Echo encounters while still within the utopian society are interesting and really draw you in. Director Michael Bay's restraint here is actually impressive where we begin to see a story with real substance, and he allows his actors to act.

I really enjoyed McGregor and Johansson as the leads in this film and the humanity they bring to their characters. McGregor is one of the most intriguing actors working in Hollywood today and this proves it once again. I can't imagine what this film would have been like without him. Can you imagine a hack like Colin Farrell in this role? Perish the thought.

The production design and basic plot elements reminded me a lot of the sci-fi classic Logan's Run where the utopian survivors begin to doubt that the outside world is contaminated and that their society is in fact a lie, so they must run. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a direct remake, but it does house a lot of the same philosophy.

The idea of replacing the whole "dated" nuclear holocaust angle in Logan's Run with this cloning angle is actually very intriguing and seems a perfect way to bring that story into our world and deliver a similar impact it had back in the 1970s.

I was enthralled by The Island and started to believe it was the best movie of the summer. For over an hour, I was transfixed to the screen. Then, the more the film moved along, the more signature Michael Bay shots I started to see. Man stepping from helicopter in slow-mo with blades whizzing above him. A cluttered freeway crash sequence ripped right out of Bad Boys II. And even more explosions and bellowing action stunts that are way, way over the top.

I liked Michael Bay a lot when he was restrained from using his signature stuff and I even believed for a second that he could be a great director if given the right material. But once I started getting hit with Michael Bay mayhem, I started to lose touch with the story and the characters. Don't get me wrong, there was also some of the adrenaline junkie stuff I liked, but it just seemed tiresome and routine, especially the truck sequence.

Surprisingly, the product placement in the film didn't bug me as much as it has been talked about. There are some scenes where I did notice it, but for me it wasn't any worse than it was in Minority Report.

I liked The Island and a lot of what it had to offer, but I think the film should have stuck more with the story and less with the explosions. (3.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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