The Island (2005)
A Film Review
Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005
At the end of 19th Century many scholars believed that the science found its limits and that there were few new discoveries to look forward to. These days, Hollywood producers appear to harbour similar sentiments towards science fiction. It seems that each new science fiction film is nothing more than repackaging of the older classics. One such example is THE ISLAND, 2005 film directed by Michael Bay.
The film begins in a huge underground hich-tech facility, which is supposed to protect survivors from the effects of environment disaster that has ravaged the Earth. Inhabitants of this new world live comfortable lives, albeit under ever-present control of their mysterious and sinister handlers led by psychiatrist Doctor Merrick (played by Sean Bean). The only exciting thing is the Lottery, with winners earning the right to travel to the "Island", the only unpolluted place on Earth. Lottery is source of intense speculation among Lincoln Six Echo (played by Ewan McGregor) and his friends. His curiosity leads to discover the unimaginably cruel truth behind the Lottery - he and thousands of other people are nothing more than clones, bred and raised in order to provide their "originals" with compatible organs. When Lincoln and his love interest Jordan Two Delta (played by Scarlett Johansson) escape, they discover that the world is actually intact and that they might find shelter in Los Angeles. Merrick, in the meantime, hires former French commando Albert Laurent (played by Djimon Hounosou) to bring back fugitive clones.
THE ISLAND starts promisingly, which is a rarity for Michael Bay's opus. First half of the film, set in the seemingly utopian futuristic facility, might bring back memories of LOGAN'S RUN, THX 1138, COMA and other science fiction classics. Unfortunately, when the protagonists leave this setting, Bay sees this as an opportunity to transform potentially intelligent science fiction drama into just another series of chases, fights, shootouts and explosions that don't make any sense. The acting talents, just like the basic idea behind the script, are wasted. That includes Scarlett Johansson's assets, which can never be properly exploited in film rated PG-13. Needless to say, all the difficult ethical questions concerning the cloning or true nature of human identity are completely ignored.
Another annoying element of THE ISLAND is in Bay never failing to conform to unwritten "politically correct" laws of Hollywood screenwriting. Sean Bean's character starts as benevolent character, but has peculiar English accent. Djimon Hounosou starts as sinister villain, but happens to be black. It doesn't take genius to predict whether each of them will have their moral alignment altered before the film ends.
Due to intriguing premise and solid opening, THE ISLAND is watchable. But this failure to build anything valuable on the basis of genre legacy is going to be heart-breaking experience for all the fans of classic science fiction films.
RATING: 3/10 (+)