The Island Review
“You have Been Chosen”
The Island is a Michael Bay movie (Armageddon, The Rock) which, for the first half at least, tries to be intelligent. No mean feat when you consider the usual action-fests Bay normally gives us. It isn't completely successful in the quest, yet it does at least allow you to ponder the predicament of the main characters and try to theorise an explanation for the unfolding events.
The Island stars Ewan McGregor (Star Wars) as Lincoln Six Echo and Scarlett Johansson (Match Point) as Jordan Two Delta. They are two of many members of a community who live in a seemingly perfect post-apocalyptic world unable to leave the confines of their enclosed home due to the poisoned atmosphere of the nuclear war. Unable that is, unless they are a winner of the 'Lottery', the game where the winner is relocated to 'The Island' the last uncontaminated paradise left on the planet. This lottery is the sole driving force of everyone there and some have waited years to win whilst others are survivors found outside, brought here and win almost immediately.
The sterile world where everyone lives has some strange laws governing it. For example, you may have friends, but intimacy is prohibited and proximity alarms are raised if you get too close to another. The residents' diets are strictly controlled and daily tests are carried out to monitor the condition of their health. They all perform menial daily jobs all dressed in white and aggression is non-existent. In fact, everyone appears to be conditioned to act and behave in a specific way and nobody questions this existence. Nobody that is accept Lincoln Six Echo.
Lincoln has been having nightmares and is irritated that he cannot eat what he wants and wear what he wants. His meeting with resident psychiatrist Dr Merrick (Sean Bean-FlightPlan) offers few answers and his curiosity leads him to uncover secrets which will completely change his world and his future. I am sure you all know what that secret is, but for those who do not, I will not spoil it for you. Suffice to say that Lincoln's perception as too everyone else's perception of this home of theirs is wrong and their whole existence is for reasons other than what they know.
Comparisons with other movies is unavoidable. The Island is reminiscent of Logan's Run with the characters living in a seemingly perfect world only then to try and escape to the outside but maybe more surprisingly, it is also similar in many ways to The Matrix Not only in plot where Lincoln's eyes are opened to the reality of the world in which he lives (As with Neo in The Matrix) but also in the second half of the movie where action takes over from story and has a striking similarity to The Matrix Reloaded. This change of pace within the movie is both its saving grace and its downfall all at the same time...
The problem with The Island is that it starts off as a thought provoking Sci-Fi yarn and although maybe a little slow of pace, certainly gets you thinking, but half way through turns into your regular Michael Bay no-brainer action flick which entertaining as it is, removes the need for intelligent storyline and replaces it with over the top set pieces and (admittedly well done) CGI scenes. But saying that, wasn't that exactly how The Matrix panned out? So maybe I am being too pedantic after all.
Michael Bay has slipped in some of his acting regulars such as Michael Clarke Duncan (Armageddon) and Steve Buscemi (also of Armageddon) who both put in reasonable performances. The Island is an ok movie at the end of the day. It clichés so many movies and characters that it is almost laughable but still manages to entertain to a greater or lesser extent depending what kind of movie floats your boat. If you like action movies, the first half may bore you and if you like intelligent plots then the second half may be seen as ridiculous. Either way, The Island has something for everyone and as such is more a jack of all trades rather than master of any one.