“Though the actors look their parts (actually, Johansson’s parts look darn fine – but that’s another story) they are sort of wasted in a tale like this” – Clint Morris
Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Clarke Duncan, Ethan Phillips
Jigsaw Puzzles aren’t much to look at when their pieces aren’t in place. Scattered across the floor – it’s an illegible mess. Like Michael Bay’s latest film though, when all the pieces are coupled, or in this case his infinitely different first and third act are linked, it all looks good and the privy party walk away fulfilled. Bay being Bay though – there’s always a couple of pieces from the brainteaser that he’s forgotten to slot into the puzzle.
Seemingly desperate to lose that well-deserved tag as Captain Popcorn-Movie – no story but special effects, stars and super stunts – Bay drops seasoned action producer Jerry Bruckheimer (“Con-Air”, “The Rock”, “Armageddon”, “Bad Boys”) from the call-sheet as he attempts to do something that’s a little less effects-driven and significantly more of a yarn.
“The Island” is set in the future, where men and women are having themselves cloned so that they can live longer lives – through use of their clone’s fresh parts, be it a healthier liver or better ticker.
What are the clones, which are all trapped in a huge-sized underground compound, told? They’ve been brainwashed to believe that there’s a beautiful ‘Island’ each of them will get to go – when fortuitously selected. Of course, they’re merely being dragged away so they can be sliced and diced for their parts.
When Lincoln-Echo Six (Ewan McGregor) gets wind that something’s not right in his world, he grabs friend (Scarlett Johansson) and they both escape. The outside world is an alien one to them – obviously, having never been outside the complex – and poses quite a challenge. One that turncoat factory worker Mac (Steve Buscemi) helps them to overcome.
“The Island” is one-part “Minority Report”, one-part Michael Bay, and all-action. It may feel like two movies – the first part being the story driven section, and the latter half being unrelenting action – but it’s very entertaining, a sort of thrilling cinematic rollercoaster ride. Bay’s intention may have been to sway away from those action blockbuster’s he’s made his name for but he really hasn’t. Yes, the first part of the film has significantly more story than any of Mikey B’s previous films, but by the film’s middle – he’s his old self. Thing is, after so much exposition and repartee, we’re keen for some action and he can seemingly blow stuff up, flip cars and destroy buildings like no other.
So what are the pieces missing from Bay’s puzzle?
Though the actors look their parts (actually, Johansson’s parts look darn fine – but that’s another story) they are sort of wasted in a tale like this. No performance necessary really. At the same time, they’re deserving of a well-earned holiday, so if this is how they get it, then why not? In addition, the script’s a little all-over-the-place. Seemingly unsure of itself, it weaves in and out of different genres and in the end, simply just keeps going and going and going. Some serious trimming needed here. The film’s conclusion is also a bit of a disappointment – flat, not very stirring. Maybe they should’ve used the predictable twist after all?
Still, Bay knows how to deliver enough bang for your buck, and his latest more than satisfied the price of cinema admission yet again. Well worth checking out.
Reviewer : Clint Morris