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Ewan McGregor
Scarlett Johansson
Djimon Hounsou
Steve Buscemi
Michael Clarke Duncan.
Michael Bay.
Alex Kurtzman
Caspian Tredwell-Owen
Robert Orci.
Running Time
136 minutes

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The Island
The Island is full of energy and incredibly pretty but burdened with only the minimum of smarts.

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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.

Reviewed by Olly Richards

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Island
Empire Star Rating

Most under-rated movie ever?

I love this movie on so many levels. If this movie was more loved when it came out, the Transformers movies would have ended up 10 trillion times better. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BatSpider at 20:00, 20 February 2012 | Report This Post

ARGH!!!!! Michael Bay!!!

Great tense SCI-FI movie for 1hr 15 and then Bay loses his bottle and bang come the cliched chases and explosions for an hour. It's not as if Bay can't handle heavier weightier content (Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, First half of this), I just think he loses his confidence to see through a vision without copious amounts of explosions. A real shame!!! Less is MORE! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by johncarrelson at 10:13, 21 June 2009 | Report This Post

Great Action Thriller

This movie was great the first time I saw it and I could have watched it again right away. The action is great, I do think that the plot has been used a lot in the past; however, I found this to be exciting and entertaining every second I watched. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Frosty92 at 06:19, 02 May 2009 | Report This Post

enjoyable action sci/fi flick

the island could have either been a thought provoking, dystopian future and intelligent film but in the hands of michael bay it only focuses on that aspect of the clone story lightly and instead decides to spend more time focusing on cool, kick-ass action and spectacular action scenes. this is no bad thing and i found this movie fun and enjoyable and having a message inside all of the brainless action. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by THE DALTONATOR at 12:31, 28 January 2009 | Report This Post


Didn't really know what to expect from this. Trailer looked a bit dodgy n stuff. Turned out really good. I like Michael Bay's strong style with bright lights, bold colours and completely amazing chase sequences. There are some floors but overall it is a really cool idea. The cast is fantastic, especially McGregor when he fights his own clone. Weird stuff! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Balian of Ibelin at 18:27, 31 August 2008 | Report This Post

What if one of the coolest, thought provoking, sci-fi movie ever made was made by Michael Bay

Well you'd have the island that's what. Imagine THX-1138 except with explosions at sunset. It continues after the end to remove all the subtle enigmas that made THX great. Seriously, if you look closely it's just a cheap rip off. THX-1138 + An Xbox = The Island It's a waste of money. No. Really. Go away. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by fug91 at 18:05, 02 July 2008 | Report This Post

Under rated as hell!

Really liked this when I saw it in the cinema in 2005. Just bought the Blu-ray now as well. Yes, it is like Logans run mixed with Coma - but it is seriously better than those two put together! Oh and it looks fantastic too (just like all of Bay's stuff - no-one shoots helicopters like Bay does). ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by McGuffin at 12:54, 05 June 2008 | Report This Post

Anthony Michael Hall - was he once in it?

Does anyone recall that in the Empire edition that featured this film, there was a picture of Sean Bean and someone who looked like Anthony Michael Hall (from The Breakfast Club and Dead Zone). The caption (a typical Empire smartass comment) didnt namecheck AMH but it certainly looked like him. Anyways, I dont recall seeing any such charater when I finally saw the film on TV and I wondered if it was some kind of Merrick clone subplot that got dropped. I did google AMH and SB together but nowhe... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ButtonMan88 at 18:13, 18 May 2008 | Report This Post

Enjoyable film with a great ending, superb score from Steve Jablonk sky who did the honours on Transformers..Scarlett looks good too! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by godders123 at 13:43, 27 February 2008 | Report This Post

I Sci-Fi Gem

Very enjoyable. A hugely entertaining first dig at sci-fi by Michael Bay ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 09:31, 25 February 2008 | Report This Post

Oh, no!

Too much, too loud, crappy ending, I mean what happened to the writers, did they just give up? Michael Bay is so full of him self that he really can't see longer than his snotty nose. and for the leads... Get them out of the action movies forever!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by larstrygve at 19:11, 01 January 2008 | Report This Post

The Bayest sci-fi made, Awesome.

The Island sees Bay back to his best, the orange filters, fast quick cut editing, cheesy humour & loud action are well balenced this time & more mature. The film boasts a superb & interesting cast, Ewan and Scarlett are a superb duo, Sean Bean delivers another villainous performance & Steve Buscenmi tops it off with the laughs. the premise of the film is simple & unique, we see our duo imprisoned in a stunning looking germ free utopia, safe from contamination outside they awa... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by David G at 13:00, 26 August 2007 | Report This Post

Superficially smarter than previous Bay movies, this is still big, stupid, spectacular fun ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 19:16, 06 April 2007 | Report This Post

Great Action Flick

Finally a great sci-fi action thriller that rocked. Loved it all the way. The ending wasnt cheesy at all. I liked it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by m_er at 23:35, 12 February 2007 | Report This Post

What it says on the tin

Pure popcorn, but great fun nontheless. Credible performances by the leads, and a really great story despite the cheesy ending. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Filmbuffed at 09:02, 26 October 2006 | Report This Post

Why did it flop?

Given the reviews of this film and the fact that it had bombed over the water, I had low expectations. However, I actually quite liked it. In a film with echos of the classic Logans Run, Ewan McGregor and Scarlet Johannson are well cast together and the storyline is well paced with some stunning action sequences (the car chase with flying train parts was excellent). It certainly wasn't mindless - its raises many thought provoking issues. This film is certain proof that critics reviews and box of... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by leaveitwithya at 14:42, 25 August 2006 | Report This Post

RE: Great! Lots of crash bang wallop

Not as bad as i thought it might be but still a pretty tiresome, weak action film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BobaJango at 23:56, 25 May 2006 | Report This Post

Great! Lots of crash bang wallop

A much better film than I had been lead to expect. Ewan McGregor is great putting his toothy grin to full use and arguing with a clone of himself at one stage (how do they do that?) Look out for the "my car! they're shooting my car!" sequence. Scarlett Johannson is a little ....erm... blank, but she's drop dead gorgeous and it's nice to see the movie babe is not for once some skinny stick insect. Sean Bean is on good clinical-menacing-bad-guy form and manages to supress the... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by culpitt at 12:32, 25 May 2006 | Report This Post

RE: i hate michael bay

L: harmonica32 the ialaND HAD POOR SCRIPT POOR ACTING POOR DIRECTION POOR EVERYTHING I FELT ROBBED OF MY MONEY AND WATS MORE OUTRAGED TO FIND THAT EMPIRE HAD GIVEN IT 3 STARS. aLSO THE CLAIM THAT MICHAEL BAY IS THE BEST ACTION DIRECTOR OF RECENT TIMES IN JUST BULL SHIT.Ken loache could direct action then micheal bay who to be quite frank looks like he strapped the camera to his cock and jerked off to achieve his shots. also catzye you havent written a review you've written a syn... More

Posted by Monkey Wrench at 20:19, 22 May 2006 | Report This Post

RE: kool thriller/sci fi

It's quite good actually much better than I expected, afun action film ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Zaphod121 at 21:32, 19 May 2006 | Report This Post

RE: kool thriller/sci fi

The criticisms gave me a low opinion of this film before it had even begun, which left me pleasantly surprised upon watching it because it wasn't "all that bad" - however, I'm not saying it wasn't bad at all, because the ending was absolutely appalling! A performance from McGregor is always a pleasure to watch, in my opinion, and even Johansson's lacklustre acting was worth the endurance in the end. By no means a classic film, I don't believe it deserved all the flack it received, eve... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jessica_ca_ca_ca at 13:42, 19 May 2006 | Report This Post

RE: kool thriller/sci fi

Middle is a muddle but the performances are good as is the look and sheen of the film. Certainly it's a step up for Bay ten years into his film career. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by doctorolorinbats1975 at 20:49, 18 May 2006 | Report This Post

RE: kool thriller/sci fi

Just watched this on DVD and had a fine couple of hours.  I had low low expectations but aside from the bits where the story was kinda abandoned and you just filled in the blanks yourself I thought it was a far better film than others had suggested.  The highway scene in particular was simply brilliant.  I liked the style of the film and there were some quite thought provoking issues though possibly they were misplaced in a film that really just wanted to get to the action. ... More

Posted by Brick_Tamland at 23:52, 17 May 2006 | Report This Post

kool thriller/sci fi

excellent film around clones, good combo of sci fi, action and a thriller all rolled together. It was better than i thought it was going to be, very good issues it raises about cloning. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alexisreaver2132 at 13:54, 17 May 2006 | Report This Post

RE: The Island

When I first heard about The Island I was really enthusiastic. Reading the premise it sounded rather like  a superb book I've read by Michael Marshall Smith - "Spares". How disappointing to hear that "The Island" was to be a 15 certificate. Just to quantify that remark: I don't have a problem with 15 certificate films, I feel that often these films have to work harder than 18 certificate films - this is especially true for the horror genre and to a lesser degree, science fiction.  ... More

Posted by shiny mouse at 22:29, 16 May 2006 | Report This Post

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