The Island

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Lincoln Six Echo (McGregor) is beginning to question his utopian home, where every movement is strictly controlled and everyone is desperate to be sent to The Island, the final paradise in the apparently destroyed outside world. But sensing something is up Lincoln escapes with fellow inmate Jordan (Johansson) and discovers that not only is their world a lie, so is the nature of their existence.


You know what you’re getting with a Michael Bay movie. It’s gonna be loud, it’s gonna be glossy and there’s gonna be a whole lot of collateral damage. You should also know exactly what you’re not getting. Bugger nuance, screw subtlety, just crank up that wind machine and throw in another helicopter. By these rules, The Island may be the most Michael Bay movie anyone will ever make.Possessing more complex ideas than any of Bay’s shiny, vacuous back catalogue, this does at least have something approaching intellectual ambition. The idea of a rigid self-contained society controlled by barely seen powers is hardly new (Bay’s vision of sinister confinement predictably looks like the kind of spa frequented by wheatgrass-chugging Los Angelinos, all granite surfaces and an absence of door handles) but with the addition of cloning and its ethics, it is at least timely. Bay being Bay, he doesn’t really delve much into the psychology of discovering that you’re a human facsimile or that nothing you remember is real. There are hints of it: born into physical adulthood, the clones learn at the rate of newborns, questioning their surroundings as they get older. But such internal troubles lose out to the external and are too often brushed away, with Johansson pouting prettily or McGregor furrowing his heavily tanned brow before running away from whatever’s exploding nearby. It’s often difficult to judge, in fact, whether the leads (a brave assemblage of arty talent for such mindlessness) are being fittingly blank and confused or simply not very good; until, that is, McGregor, playing an argument with his own genetic twin, shows an impressive subtlety undemanded by the movie. Of course, to complain about Bay lacking depth is like whinging that Oliver Stone is a bit political. Pure spectacle and luxurious visuals are what he does best, and Bay vigorously empties his bag of tricks all over the screen. Shoot-outs, wildly incendiary car chases, sweaty twilit sex… all are pulled off with an expensive bravura that few other directors can top. If you’ve come for the action – and, really, what on earth else were you coming for? – your buck will certainly buy you many a bang. Hopefully loud enough bangs to drown out some of the lacklustre nonsense around them...

Like its slack-jawed clones, The Island is full of energy and incredibly pretty but burdened with only the minimum of smarts.