272 – The Island

The Island is a loud, superfluous cacophony of explosions and gunplay interrupted by quick bouts of sci-fi plotting. I half expected Tom Cruise to be the lead Action Dude, because forces conspire against Lincoln Six Echo, and his world is not as he thought it was. Shades of Minority Report! (One of the cars from MR even makes an appearance here.) And just about any other Tom Cruise vehicle.

But no, we get Ewan McGregor as Lincoln, and I think that’s for the best. Lincoln Six Echo is one of thousands of people who live in an idyllic community underground. They’ve been told that the outside world was contaminated somehow, and they are the last survivors. And every evening, the community holds a lottery to determine which of the inhabitants gets to go to The Island, the last safe aboveground paradise.

Lincoln’s been having some odd dreams, though, and he decides to Investigate, as hero types are wont to do, and he quickly discovers life ain’t really all that idyllic, as he and the other inhabitants are clones for people in the outside world, clones that are being kept for spare parts or for out-and-out replacements, should the originals actually die. Now, if you were good ol’ Lincoln Six Echo, what would you do? You probably wouldn’t run to the head of the community, Dr. Merrick (Sean Bean), because he’s obviously a bad guy. No, you’d grab your gal pal Jordan Two Delta (Scarlet Johannson), who’s just won the nightly lottery, and amscray. And naturally, then all hell breaks loose as the fugitives are chased hither and yon.

Say what you will about most Michael Bay movies, that they’re loud, incomprehensible babble masquerading as a seamless plot, but the movies can be quite entertaining if viewed with the right perspective. Bay uses his trademark pulsating soundtrack that coincides neatly with the onscreen explosions to great effect, interspersing plenty of well-done chase scenes around such plot movers as the Helpful Friend (played here by Steve Buscemi, who’s very well cast) and the Mercenary with a Conscience (played here by Dijimon Hounsou, from Amistad).

It’s sort of like watching an amalgam of The Sixth Day, Minority Report, and Payback, with a dollop of Armaggedon tossed in as a dessert topping. McGregor is far better than Schwarzenegger, Cruise, or Affleck could hope to be, and Johansson does very well in a love-interest role, certainly doing more for the film than the film does for her. Also appearing is Ethan Phillips, who once played Peter on the long-ago TV series Benson, and Michael Clarke Duncan, another winner of the lottery.

So aside from the loudness and the sometimes poor writing, The Island really isn’t all that bad, owing in no small part to the appealing, symbiotic performances by McGregor and Johannson.

The Island: ***

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