Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Title: The Island
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi
Director:Michael Bay

Catastrophe has left much of the world uninhabitable. Survivors are rehabilitated in an institute, where they are carefully kept in the best health, working towards a better future. Thanks to the work over the post-catastrophe years a paradise island has been made inhabitable. With a lottery being run regularly to allow people to move from the institute to the island.

Even without winning the lottery and a trip to the island, life is pretty good. But Lincoln Six Echo is having nightmares, and each day brings new questions. Despite the fact that things are structured for his benefit, they are actually restrictive. His clothing is controlled, all those eligible for the lottery wear white, the staff that keep things running wear black. He isn't allowed to eat bacon for breakfast, even though he wants to. And despite the closeness between him and Jordan Two Delta, they are forbidden from touching each other - men and women sleeping in separate wings.

Of course it becomes clear that things are not as they seem, and most folk will have seen in advance that this is a film about clones. Echo (McGregor) and Delta (Johannson) are in fact clones and the entire structure of their life is a lie. Something which becomes clear to Echo, triggering the usual switch from science fiction film with potential to big hollywood chase movie. Which is reflected by the dialogue, which becomes increasingly monosyllabic - McGregor and Johannson taking turns grunting "go" or "run", while people shoot at them and things blow up.

The Island starts with potential, taking elements from say Michael Marshall Smith's Spares and all sorts of material by Philip K. Dick. There are plenty of nice little touches in there, creating a sparse and crisp future, but increasingly those are outweighed by garish product placements. While post apocalypse and cloning ideas are pushed aside in favour of adventure. But then, really, that is to be expected, and The Island is what it is, loud and fast - a big action film that pretty much builds to velocity and keeps it going, so you never really have to stop and think about what is going on.

The highlight of the film is when McGregor meets McGregor, providing the clearest vision of the potential the film holds. Though the psychological issues that could have been dealt with never really come to the fore.

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