The Island (2005)

I was reminded of this movie while on holiday when I read the excellent book on the story of Dreamworks.  This movie was not without its a problems, with an ever expanding budget that kept the pressure on the young studio to return its investment of finally $126M.  So what does that coin get you?

Well, riding off the success of Bad Boys, Armageddon and The Rock (let us just not talk about Pearl Harbor yet) there was high hope for Michael Bay to deliver the goods on this action thriller.

The premise of the story is absolutely fascinating.  Take The Truman Show and mix it with a dash of Moon and you have The Island.  We are all painfully aware that the human body is a flawed device, breaks down frequently and doesn’t age terribly well.

So what if you could keep a spare YOU tucked away, that you could dip into for essential spare parts?   This clone of yours would be harvested for when you most need it.  Naturally this is going to be a very costly affair, so only the super wealthy will be able to afford such a backup.

Ewan McGregor plays both clone and wealthy owner, but for the first half of the movie all we see is from this clone’s point of view.  We’re in a very space age setup, with little explanation of what is going on.   Slowly the story is teased out that the outside world is in disarray with no vegetation and the only place that is green and healthy is the Island.   There is a lottery every week for the lucky chosen to be taken out and sent to the Island to live out their lives in luxury and true freedom.   This is what motivates and keeps the spirits up.

Though our friend Ewan isn’t quite sure about it all.  He starts to question certain routines and various oddities that just don’t seem to add up.  This is when the story starts to unfold and the ‘action’ part of the movie starts to kick in.

Scarlett Johansson is a fellow clone who completely buys in to the whole story line and of course is the love interest of Ewan who eventually persuades her to open her eyes and look around.

Sean Bean plays the head of the facility wonderfully well, with you buying into his character for the first half without any major alerts.   The overall reveal is held back for a significant amount of time, with the odd clue here and there.   That said, if you watch the movie again, you will pick up on a whole lot clues that are placed right from the start of the story.

Then once they break out, we go into full Michael Bay mode, with wide sweeping Coca-Cola’esq shots.   The problem for me at this point the action is completely unwarranted.   Very contrived and doesn’t add anything to the story line except to have an excuse to chase expensive (Bugatti Veyron) cars.

The whole foundation for this story is so rich in material they didn’t need to go into action-mode but instead keep it in the physiological thriller space.   It started out very well, but went down hill quickly.

There is one scene where you get a sense that Bay was so pleased with himself with his Bad Boy stunts that he had to incorporate some of those in this outing.   Literally there are some chase scenes, that are lit exactly the same, and you wonder if you are still in Miami.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good mindless action thriller and loved his 

Armageddon outing with a tearful Bruce Willis.   But The Island doesn’t warrant the Bay touch.

One is left wondering what this story would have been like without the action and given to another director to take over the line, say Ron Howard.

Definitely worth a watch to say you’ve seen it.   Just don’t spend money on it.

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Viewing Date
Thursday, 10th September 2015

Rating
4/10

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