Review: The Island

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[image title=”theisland” size=”thumbnail” id=”428″ align=”right” linkto=”https://irrationale2.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/theisland.jpg” ]What would you do to live forever? Would you clone yourself and harvest the clone for it’s organs once yours started to fail? And how about if that clone was a living, breathing, feeling human being?

Well, that’s what “The Island” is all about. Sort of. Think of it as “The Morality of Cloning, 101”, only with an explosion or some kind of insane car chase every two minutes. Oh, and a really hot female lead.

So Lincoln Six Echo (McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Johansson) are two of a huge group of strangely attractive people who live in an ultra-sanitary world, hiding from the “contamination” outside, performing mundane tasks, and hoping that they’ll win the lottery – a draw to see who’s next to escape this immaculate white world and spend the rest of their days on a sun-drenched beach.

Slowly, Lincoln starts to wonder why they can’t go outside. Why they only wear white jumpsuits. Why they want to go to the island. Whether or not the island really exists. His questions are worrying to Merrick, the evil genius doctor who runs the place (Bean). He decides to keep an eye on Lincoln in case there’s something wrong with him. And there is. He’s curious.

So the entire idea behind this film is that the island isn’t quite what they’ve been led to believe. It’s not sandy beaches and sun. It’s not little drinks with umbrellas in them. It’s being carved up like a Thanks Giving turkey so your organs can be given to your “sponsor” – the person who paid to have you made.

There’s a great scene where the clone of a football star, plaed by Michael Clarke Duncan (Armageddon, Green Mile), wins the lottery and leaves the habitat. He discovers his true, horrible purpose when he wakes up on the operating table as his liver is about to be removed. When Lincoln witnesses this, he is terrified, and decides to escape.

He and Jordan, who has just won the lottery, manage to figure a way out of the complex and find their way into town. There, with the help of McCord (Buscemi), they plan their trip to Los Angeles to inform Lincoln’s sponsor of their inhumane treatment. On their way they have to avoid police, bounty hunters hired by Merrick to retrieve his “product”, and Michael Bay’s film-making style.

Bay is the master of coreographed, all-out, completely bananas action sequences. And for 90 minutes, that’s what we get. Jordan and Lincoln dodge bullets, fall seventy stories from a skyscraper while attached to a giant metal sign (and somehow survive) and participate in one of the more interesting “lots of stuff crashing” car chase sequences since Blues Brothers. He also seems to have no shame or remorse when it comes to the characters in his films – He has no troubles in dispatching them in pretty horrible ways once they’re no longer required.

In between these scenes of incredible mayhem, we start to learn a little more about Lincoln and Jordan’s sponsors. Lincoln’s sponsor, Tom Lincoln, is a scot with a passion for motorcycles and incredibly fast things (much like McGregor in real life). Jordan’s sponsor, Sarah Jordan, is remarkably similar to the Scarlett Johansson we know and love. She’s beautiful, has appeared in Maxim and Esquire, and is an actress. In fact, the scene where Jordan really comes to terms with the fact she’s a clone is when she sees a commercial of her sponsor – it’s actually a Calvin Klein ad that Johansson did a little while ago.

But don’t think that this is going to be a really deep and dark look at the moral ideas of cloning. Sure, the potential is there for it, but Michael Bay isn’t really that kind of director. There are a couple of scenes which remind you of “Logan’s Run”, “THX-1138” or “Clockwork Orange”, and there are even a few eerie metaphors toward the Holocaust. But that only lasts for a moment before people are being smashed apart by huge train wheels while screaming down freeways.

The other thing that this film reminds me of is “Minority Report” or “I, Robot”, but not for the plot or acting. It’s like a giant, epic television commercial. Something that waves really expensive things which might be available in a store near you in a little while. Things like the new Nokia 8800, the ’09 Caddy concept car, the incredibly expensive jet-powered boat — or the clone of yourself you can use for parts.

All that being said, The Island is quite an entertaining film. It’s not too preachy, but it’s not too schlock. It’s nicely down the middle. And Scarlett Johansson is hot.

irrationale.com gives it 6.5 stars.

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, Puma shoes, Aquafina water, the X-Box, MSN search, Budweiser, Apple computers, Calvin Klein, Nokia phones , the Cadillac Cien, Chevrolet, Ben & Jerry’s and much, much more.
Directed by: Michael Bay.

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