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The Island (9/10)

by Tony Medley

This is a brilliantly devised Sci-Fi speculation. Itís a movie that could have been chock full of plot holes and things that made no sense, but it isnít. Itís shockingly realistic.

We meet Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) as they are living in an underground bunker, the result of some terrible ďcontaminationĒ that has rendered the earth incapable of sustaining life. Occasionally there is a lottery run by the people who are supervising their lives. The winner of the lottery gets to go to ďThe Island,Ē which is the only remaining area of the earth that is not contaminated. At the beginning of the film, Starkweather (Michael Clarke Duncan) wins the lottery and heís ecstatic.

Lincoln is troubled by strange dreams, so he goes to the boss, Merrick (Sean Bean) and tells him about them. Merrick is concerned so he inserts some things into Lincolnís eyes to do a brain scan.

Lincoln obviously likes Jordan, but all sexual encounters are forbidden. One day Jordan wins the lottery. Somehow, Lincoln finds his way into a prohibited area and he discovers some shocking news. He breaks into Jordanís room and convinces her that they must escape. All this happens in the first half hour. The rest of the film is Jordan and Lincoln trying to get away from Merrick and everyone connected with him, including the FBI and the LAPD.

This could have been ridiculous. But itís not. Director, co-Producer Michael Bay expertly tells this story in such a way that everything that happens is realistic. It takes a subject that is on todayís headlines, cloning, and projects it to a logical conclusion, and itís very scary.

The remaining hour and a half is a chase film that never gets tiresome. The car chases are exceptional. Lincoln has made a friend within the bureaucracy, McCord (Steve Buscemi, a memorable bad guy in 1996ís ďFargoĒ), who helps them after they get out of the bunker.

The only criticism I have of this film relates to the special effects and scenes of Jordan and Lincoln falling from great heights with no injuries. I donít understand how movie makers can deal with difficult issues in fantasies and come away with realistic portrayals, as Bay does here for the most part, but still insert scenes of their stars falling from great heights and popping up without even a scratch. This film is a terrific entertainment, but Bay should have done without the falling scenes.

That said, the recreation of Los Angeles in 2019 is realistic and believable (even if it was shot in Detroit). Bay also used motion control to shoot the same actor playing two different roles, not only in a two shot, but actually holding hands. When you see it, itís remarkable. The Cadillac used in the movie is a 7 million dollar 2002 concept car, the gull-wing CIEN. The yacht seen in the film is even more expensive, the $25 million WallyPower, owned by an Italian named Luca Bassini.  When Jordan and Lincoln are being chased through the streets of Los Angeles, their pursuers are riding flying motorcycles called Wasps. Thereís more, but you have to see it to appreciate it. Suffice it to say that the chases are realistic and exciting.

Reviewing a movie like this is difficult because the more I write, the more I tell of the story. Fortunately for me, most of my readers know that I donít write much about movies I like, so I donít have to write much more, except to say how wonderful it is to see a good, highly entertaining movie with a laudable take on an issue that is currently controversial. Kudos to Michael Bay, Warner Bros. and DreamWorks for making this film. Running time 127 minutes.

July 24, 2005