Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) has been living for years in a mysterious facility where everyone wears white tracksuits, everything is meticulously monitored and asking questions is frowned upon. All that is expected of Lincoln and his peers is to eat well, stay fit and follow instructions. Their biggest hope is to win the lottery, which allows one to go to the Island, “nature’s last remaining pathogen-free zone”. Because, you see, the tracksuit crowd are survivors of some kind of worldwide contamination… or so they think.
Now, what should we do? Like The Matrix, “The Island” revolves around a horrible revelation that forces the characters to reconsider their whole existence. But like the Wachowski’s influential sci-fi flick, it can’t really be discussed without getting into said revelation. Still, I’ll be careful and say that things are not as they seem and leave it at that.
This leads to Lincoln escaping into the outside world, taking Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) along with him. The rest of the movie is basically one crazy chase after another (“RUN!!!”), which is fitting considering that it’s directed by Michael Bay, who blows up shit and crashes cars more stylishly than anyone else. Whatever people say, you have to admit that Bay truly masters cinematic grammar, making optimum use of camera movements, lighting, editing, etc. It’s too bad that logic sometimes goes out the window as the need for thrills becomes more important, but no one watches Michael Bay films for their smarts, right?
There are actually some interesting ideas in “The Island” and a surprising amount of exposition scenes, but these are entertaining too as delivered by such gifted actors as Steve Buscemi and Sean Bean. Also featured are Djimon Hounsou, an unexpected but effective choice for an action movie bad guy, and Michael Clarke Duncan, in a small but memorable part. In the leads, McGregor and Johansson both look great running around, but only Ewan manages to breathe some soul and intensity into his character. Oh, Scarlett’s hot, especially the way Bay shoots her like a golden goddess, but I’m starting to feel that her early accomplishments were a fluke. The more movies I see her in, the more obvious it becomes that she has no range and that there’s not much going on behind her pretty face. It’s quite telling that her best moment in the film is a dialogue-free Calvin Klein commercial that Bay perversely incorporates into the storyline. People as product, huh?