Movie Review (THE ISLAND)

As far as I’m concerned, THE ISLAND (2005), directed by Michael Bay and produced by DreamWorks, is a modern science fiction classic. I watched this movie very recently since last seeing it in a theater as a new release. The film, which takes place in 2019, now two years past, holds up well after the better part of two decades. Granted, some of the technology presented, such as flying cars and motorcycles, still has not come into existence. Because of this, I would have added another decade into the future for when the story takes place, but perhaps the production’s creators wanted to be more immediate for the sake of relevancy to real life issues. In any case, the bold, saturated colors and periodic closeups lend an effective immediacy, intensity, and intimacy to the movie. The antiseptic, straight-lined, futuristic sets are grimly fascinating and claustrophobic (like institutions of science can often be, I find), making it easy to empathize with the two protagonists.

THE ISLAND initially takes place in some mysterious massive facility where several clones of adult people reside and are heavily monitored by a staff of uniformed, often intrusive, workers. Ewan MacGregor plays Lincoln Six Echo, an especially bright and curious clone who begins to push against the hum drum existence doled out to him. Recurring, disturbing dreams also add to his restlessness. Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) is his close friend and love interest. These two and all of the other clones each await winning a frequently held lottery. The winner gets to leave the sterile facility and go to the Island, a supposedly idyllic place that is free of deadly contamination, unlike the rest of the earth, which has gone through some vaguely explained, human-caused apocalypse. When Jordan wins the lottery one day, Lincoln panics and quickly persuades her to escape with him. He suspects much nefariousness is afoot, including the likelihood that there is no actual Island.

The entire cast is very competent, with Steve Buscemi providing occasional comic relief as James McCord, a technician/mechanic employee of the facility who befriends Lincoln before the start of the film. He later aids the two main characters on their adventure. Sean Bean plays Dr. Bernard Merrick, the director of and ruthless mastermind behind the institution. He hires highly skilled mercenary and security specialist Albert Laurent (Djimon Hounsou) to pursue and capture Lincoln and Jordan after they escape to the outside world. Much intrigue and action ensues. MacGregor’s precocious and thrill-seeking Lincoln Six Echo is a good foil to Johansson’s more innocent but feisty Jordan Two Delta. I felt they had believable sexual chemistry.

THE ISLAND is a powerful blend of dystopian screenplay and intriguing action movie which speaks to the superficiality and entitlement of glorified wealth culture and how dehumanization is a real danger/problem within capitalism, including when it is united with science. It isn’t often that speculative fiction in cinema is thought-provoking while being well-done overall in terms of acting, writing, and production values. THE ISLAND happens to be a screen drama that meets all these standards and entertained me throughout.

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