For a while there I was actually convinced that director Michael Bay (Bad Boys II, Pearl Harbor) had matured beyond his music video roots.
But old habits die hard, as it is with The Island.
Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johanson are members of an isolated utopian society. As far as they know, the outside world has been
contaminated and their only hope of leaving is to win the lottery and earn a trip to the last non-contaminated zone, otherwise known as ‘the
Needless to say, everything is not as it seems. Unless you’ve seen the trailer, in which case everything is exactly as it seems. The whole
story has literally been given away by the marketing.
But I’m not reviewing the trailer, and through the first act, The Island is good entertainment. It introduces us to an interesting world and this
portion of the movie works on sheer concept and production design if on nothing else.
The film also gets a huge boost from Steve Buscemi. He easily steals the show away from a host of dull and deadpan characters. And once
good old Steve departs from the film, it falls flat on its face. The script provides absolutely nothing for the talented cast of Scarlett
Johanson, Ewan McGregor, and Sean Bean. These are actors I usually can’t get enough of. In The Island their characters are completely
The film as a whole is fairly forgettable after the first act when the story turns into an extended chase scene. There is a good chunk of the
film where almost every other scene is Djimon Hounsou busting out the back of a truck in laughably dramatic slow motion.
Admittedly, a few of the action set pieces are impressive, but Michael Bay loads them full of a disorienting combination of slow motion and
fast editing that diffuses any potential sustained thrills. As a result we get nothing more than a good shot here and there.
Overall, The Island is a frustrating experience because it could have and should have been a good film. It essentially goes on autopilot for
the last two-thirds and squanders every chance it has at being a slick, sci-fi thriller. By the end, the film has fallen so far that it can’t even
be marginally recommended.
(out of four)
Directed by: Michael Bay
Written by: Caspian Tredwell-Owen and Alex Kurtzman &
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon
Hounsou, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi
Cinematography by: Mauro Fiore
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Released: July 22, 2005; 127 Minutes