Review

The Island Review

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Jul 22, 2005 | 4:37am EDT

Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson)--and with names like that you've got to be somewhat suspicious--are among the hundreds of residents of a contained facility somewhere in the not-too-distant future. They are told that they are survivors of a global ecological disaster and therefore must live under a carefully controlled environment with their day-to-day lives monitored to the nth degree seemingly for their own good. The only way out is to be chosen to go to the Island the last uncontaminated spot on earth with the "lucky" few picked "randomly" from a lottery. Yeah right. Lincoln is curious about it all. He wants to know why he's there what's his purpose and is the Island really all there is. And his dogged inquisitiveness eventually leads him to the awful truth: the Island is a cruel hoax and he and his friend Jordan are in some deep doo-doo. See they're actually clones an insurance policy as it were who are more valuable dead than alive. So they run. And run. And then really run. Just like Logan 5 and Jessica 6 did in Logan's Run breaking through to the wondrous and dangerous world outside. Hot on their trail however are the powers that be. They obviously can't have their "product" running around willy-nilly. But Lincoln and Jordan want to live dammit and will stop at nothing to achieve their mission.

McGregor and Johansson are sufficiently scrubbed and polished as the near-perfect Lincoln and Jordan aptly conveying a childlike wonderment--first to their burgeoning feelings for one another at the facility then to the horror of the truth and finally to their new surroundings in the real world. The actors also fair well as action heroes as their characters get a crash course in how to outrun trained military operatives master high-tech machinery and well make love. It's not as easy as it looks let me tell you--except maybe the last thing. I mean crashing a hovercraft-like motorcycle through a high-rise building and falling several hundred feet with nary a scratch on them is pretty darn impressive. The beauteous pair are also supported by an eclectic group. They include Djimon Hounsou (In America) as the mysterious special ops leader relentlessly hunting down Jordan and Lincoln and Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) as the morally compromised doctor running the cloning institute. And if you want to add a little screwy humor to your full-blown action flick hire Steve Buscemi (remember him in Con Air?). He plays a technician at the facility who befriends Lincoln--and lets him know how it really is.

Director Michael Bay--known for such vapid but action-packed thrillers as The Rock Armageddon and the Bad Boys series--hasn't ever made a film without his anchor the grand pooh-bah himself producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The Island is the first time the director is flying solo--and apparently Bruckheimer was a little peeved when he found out about it. According to Entertainment Weekly the producer told Bay "Just so you know we passed on it." Ouch. But you know what? Bay does just fine without the Bruckmeister turning in his most compelling movie to date--and that's really saying something. Screenwriter Caspian Tredwell-Owen obviously influenced by George Orwell's 1984 and the campy 1976 Logan's Run turned in an original script that was a tad too cerebral; it had to be Bay-ified. So young writing upstarts Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci were brought in to add that all-important action elements. Of course the idea that sometime in the future for the right amount of money you could have a clone made of yourself to use in case something happens to you seems intriguing. And mix some good old-fashioned run-for-your-life smash 'em ups the combination pays off.

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