Sunday, July 24, 2005

Movies: The Island

Genre: Popcorn sci-fi
Director: Michael Bay (Armageddon, The Rock)
Verdict: &&&&

The less I knew about The Island, the more pumped I was about visiting its shores. When I knew only that it stars Ewan McGregor and involves clones bred to keep humans healthy, I was ready to be first in line. When I learned it was directed by Michael Bay (Armageddon, Bad Boys) and peppered with chase scenes, I began to rethink my decision to skip War of the Worlds. But darn if the chase scenes aren't over-the-top fun: Bay has pulled off a surprisingly successful fusion of summer action blockbuster and thinking person's plot, much in the way I, Robot did. Lincoln Six Echo (McGregor, excellent, as always) is a clone in a sterile community optimized to keep the identical copies of paying clients in tiptop health and happiness; although fully grown, Lincoln and the others are actually only a couple of years old and kept in the dark about their purpose. The clones are led to believe the rest of the world is uninhabitable except for a small area called the island, and a few win passage to this paradise through a lottery. Although they are bred to be docile, unquestioning creatures, Lincoln is increasingly curious about his environment, wondering who washes the clothes that appear in his living quarters and why the cafeteria always serves tofu on a particular night. And for that matter, he wonders, what is tofu? Lincoln's inquisitiveness leads him outside the confines of his usual routine and ultimately to escape with his friend, Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson). The outside world thinks the clones are nothing more than vegetables, and the diabolical leader of the cloning enterprise will go to any lengths to keep it that way. Lincoln and Jordan manage to elude professional assassins in a spectacular highway chase and try to get to their human counterparts to expose the truth. Along the way, Bay deftly weaves in humor – some of the funniest scenes take place when the clones enter a bar shortly after escaping – and there are some surprisingly clever touches. For instance, the first time Jordan sees her human counterpart is when she's passing a storefront display with a television showing an actual commercial in which the actress appeared. While many viewers will predict elements of the ending before the film is half finished, the many inspired moments, such as the one in which Jordan stares at her own face in that TV screen, help make this island a worthy destination.

// Linkage //
Official movie website

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