The Island

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The Island
Review (7/10)
(By Colin Arseneault)

From Michael Bay, the director of such action flicks as Bad Boys 2 and Armageddon, comes his latest thrill ride titled The Island. Set in the not too distant future, The Island takes us to a time when humanity is on the edge of extinction after a devastating event called The Contamination killed off most, if not all life on the planet. The film focuses on two survivors of The Contamination codenamed Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) who live in a facility that harbours survivors of The Contamination until they can be safely escorted to the last bastion of uncontaminated land on Earth - The Island.

Right from the getgo, I thought this would be another token Bay film. You know, the formulaic, mindless action with-flashy-effects-and-no-substance film. This is, in some respects, not the case. It definitely has all the typical Michael Bay stuff - lots of explosions, lots of running around and, of course, a wicked car chase. Most of the camera shots in this reminded me of Bad Boys 2 and, come to think of it, the one car chase in this film felt like a complete clone of the one in Bad Boys 2, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

What differentiates this film from all the other crap Bay's done is the subtext that surrounds the plot. This movie makes many allusions to totalitarian society - more specifically, the result of prejudices, the idea of purity or longevity at any cost and, to an extent, xenophobia. There is one rather emotional scene that reflects strongly on the holocaust, which just shows how effective this film could have been if Bay had put some more effort into the underlying theme. Sadly, most of what he was trying to get across has been done a thousand times before, and to be honest, it's not all that interesting anymore. Yeah, yeah, oppression's bad, freedom's good. We get it, Mike. But, at least he tried to put some effort into giving this film a bit more substance, so I'll give him credit for that.

The acting in this was fairly average. Paired with decent dialogue, Ewan McGregor gave a rather refreshing performance considering how dull and not at all enthused he was in Revenge of the Sith. There was some chemistry between Johansson and McGregor, but not enough - that could have definitely been improved. Aside from the lead roles, Steve Buscemi as the wise cracking techie was a great choice for comic relief. And Sean Bean, reprising his role as the big tough villain he's played in his past films, gives an above par performance. I would have liked to have seen him play the bad guy a little different here, but he doesn't, and that's okay because this character works well with that persona.

After all is said and done, The Island is not your average summer blockbuster. However, to that end, it doesn't deviate much from the qualities we've come to expect from a Michael Bay flick. Yes, it was as fun as any action film should be, and yes, it had some subtext, and that alone separates it from most other action flicks, but there's nothing really new or profound here. So, if you want a lot of action, a pretty decent plot surrounding cloning and a fair bit of suspense, check this one out. Otherwise, you're wasting your time.

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