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Thursday, July 21, 2005 10:27 pm

movie review

The Island

Anyone familiar with the cult sci-fi film Logan’s Run, the paranoid medical thriller Coma, or that brilliant modern take on existentialism, The Truman Show, will quickly piece together the plot that drives The Island.

Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) think that they’re survivors of an apocalyptic cataclysm known as “the Contamination.” They, along with a few hundred others, have been told that they were rescued from this awful event and brought to the industrial utopia where they live to be decontaminated and trained to do menial jobs. Their incentive is the promise that one day they will be taken to a paradise known as “the Island.” They don’t know much about what goes on there, but it’s gotta be better than filling vials with colored fluids all day and being denied sex. This seems like a good deal, until Lincoln discovers that he and the rest of his compatriots are actually clones created so that their owners may harvest organs.

That this revelation comes merely a half-hour into this long trek shows where the emphasis is in the story for director Michael Bay. The fact that Lincoln and Jordan are clones who break free into the real world to find their human counterparts and get some answers about their existence is merely a set-up for another shoot-’em-up. A more thoughtful filmmaker might have slowly unraveled this tale, with the cloning revelation as the climax of the story, but Bay uses it as a steppingstone toward blowing up stuff real good, something he’s good at. Without question, as Lincoln and Jordan run around Los Angeles, circa 2050, bullets fly with precision, bad guys glower, and explosions accentuate the action.

McGregor and Johansson do a fine job as the clones lost in a world they never made, but their efforts are wasted — as are many prime opportunities. This pedestrian exercise is in dire need of humor. Had this stranger-in-a-strange-land angle been explored more fully, Bay might have had an effective comedy on his hands. However, what he gives us is yet another empty exercise in mayhem that generates unintentional laughs, as well as the need for a dose of aspirin.

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