The Island

The Island is another piece of glitzy Hollywood drivel from perfidious director Michael Bay. This is the story of a mysterious futuristic facility which supposedly houses the survivors of a world contamination. Naturally the truth is even more disturbing but it´s not as disturbing as Bay´s direction which is something akin to sitting through a two hour advert while crashing a car at high speed.

The facility houses clones in a crudely created fantasy world so that they may provide spare parts for their owners out in the real world, should they be required. The owners are the rich and wealthy of the world intent on prolonging their lives. This basic premise is quite intriguing and raises a number of moral questions which Bay chooses to ignore or gloss over sloppily.

Clones on the run

The hero of the piece is Lincoln Six Echo, and for some unexplained reason which obviously relates to the noble human spirit he begins to question his surroundings. The clones are kept in captivity and their lives are closely controlled, physical contact is forbidden and they know virtually nothing of the outside world. They all live in hope of winning the lottery which they are told would allow them to go to the paradise of The Island.

This is big budget stuff and the high production values are inescapably obvious. Bay has a reputation for doing high octane action well, while even his admirers admit that his cack-handed attempts at conveying emotion are dripping with cliche and insincerity. The moral implications of cloning with regard to human rights are dealt with clumsily in the first half-hour of the film and quickly swept aside to make way for shattering glass, explosions and endless chasing. The thing is Bay doesn´t do action well either, it´s all blurry close-ups cut together in such a way as to confuse and daze the audience into submission. He is obsessed with moving the camera, why shoot from two angles when you can have sixteen just remember to smash something every twenty seconds and it´ll be exciting. But it isn´t.

The plot holes are gaping and the script is predictable and dull. Bay also likes to pilfer scenes from other films; in fact they are often the best bits of his films. Examples you may recognise here include the shooting in the train station scene, the big motorway crash sequence, the rows of humans plugged into a big computer system and the tried and tested hitmen in a lift with silly muzak playing gag.

Ewan in his Puma suit

We shouldn't have to pay for films like this because the whole thing is packed full of advertising. The odious ad people have left their foul stain all over this movie and you could lift entire sequences out of it and air them as TV adverts. They all wear Puma outfits, Tag watches, and eat Ben and Jerry´s ice cream. In one scene they play a futuristic Xbox game with the Xbox logo projected onto them throughout and in another they use an MSN callbox. Bay could do us all a favour and just limit his output to adverts; it´s the perfect place for his brand of crass brainless rubbish.

The characters are pretty wooden and shallow despite the best efforts of the big name cast involved. The best performance by far is from Steve Buscemi as he lends a touch of reality to proceedings. Ewan McGregor adds to his parade of bad accents with a nasty American drawl and is far more believable as the wealthy, selfish owner than the clone. Scarlet Johanssen continues to look really good but she doesn´t seem to do anything else in this movie. Sean Bean is, you´ve guessed it he´s a Bond villain again.

The film squeezes itself out in 136 minutes ending with a self-satisfied plop. An unpleasant experience which leaves you with a sense of relief at the mere fact that it is finally over.

Reviewed by Simon Hill

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