Something is terribly
wrong here. Terribly wrong.
It’s summer time, which usually lends
to mindless blockbusters and throwaway spectacle films,
and any film helmed by Michael Bay should be a shoo-in for
lacking depth and substance, right?
is it that a third of the way through his latest effort,
The Island, Bay still seems to be approaching the
material from a rather subdued and introspective perspective?
What is going on here?
Well, folks, it’s plain and simple.
Bay has managed to do the unthinkable. With The Island,
he has produced a film that actually manages to say something
while it entertains its audiences. Would you imagine that!
in a Michael Bay film? Has hell frozen over? The Island
had to be approached with guarded caution, considering that
the closest Bay had come to making a political statement
of any sort in any of his previous works was found in the
opening moments of Armageddon, in which Bruce Willis’
Harry Stamper launches golf balls at a nearby Greenpeace
boat, who are busy protesting his oil rig.
a veiled jab at the liberal left. One could hardly refrain
from assuming what sort of statement Bay had in store within
a film openly incorporating aspects of cloning technology
into its primary plot thread. The film focuses on Lincoln
Six Echo (Ewan McGregor), a man living comfortably within
the confines of his shared community of survivors of some
has recently begun questioning his role within the shared
community, namely in correlation to his newfound friendship
with gearhead mechanic, McCord (Steve Buscemi) and the strange
dreams he has been suffering each night as a result of his
newfound friendship. The story is, Earth has suffered some
sort of massive plague that essentially infected and killed
a sizeable amount of the human population.
of this plague are holed up in a controlled environment,
which mirrors the sort of utopian dystopia found in Aldous
Huxley’s Brave New World. Granted, inhabitants
in this perfectly controlled society are given all that
they need according to strict diets and regimented routines.
They never ask questions, and their quality of life continues
to thrive day in and day out.
Or so they think. Lincoln Six Echo, on the
other hand, has begun to question the society he has had
foisted upon him since being found and brought to the facility.
Since everyone needs something to live for, each evening
a lottery is performed and one lucky inhabitant is chosen
to go to a neighboring island, which is said to be uncontaminated
and thus the ideal locale to begin repopulating humankind.
Sounds dreamy doesn’t it? Of course,
knowing full well the disillusionment in such tales as this,
the question of exactly what is going on remains on the
outskirts of comprehension for a good bulk of the film.
We know that this world is a construct, and it is apparent
that something is afoul as Lincoln and his friend Jordan
Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) are advised to spend time
apart from one another, and most importantly “mind
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this
film is the restraint Bay exercises in telling his tale.
Sure, his film is troubled in stretches and eventually winds
down into exploiting the more traditional Bay conventions,
but there are large stretches in which the director manages
to bide his time, set mood and tonality, and actually engage
his audience in the storytelling process.
you, this does not make The Island a perfect film,
or even remotely close to being a masterpiece. In fact,
the same film by a more accomplished or respected director
could have easily been dismissed as being somewhat middle
of the road in terms of quality, yet because this comes
from Bay, the master of schlock cinema, The Island
gets a bit more leniency.
similar to an annoying sibling who just won’t stop
pestering you day in and day out. You can’t really
take them in heavy doses, but when they say something remotely
profound or insightful, you have to sit up and take note.
still manages to “blowed stuff up real good like”
in the third act, yet he also ties the action back into
the concept being presented, so it sort of excels above
the normal explosions for explosion sake.
As Lincoln interacts with more and more
of his acquaintances within this utopia, he realizes that
there are some pretty good questions that need answering,
yet commonly get avoided by the staff and guards. As he
slowly unearths the answers to these questions and more,
Lincoln learns the shocking truth behind The Island and
their purpose for living in this controlled state to begin
To go further into detail regarding plot
points would really risk spoiling some of the film natural
progression, and that would be wrong.
steal away from something that is at least trying to make
something of itself, no matter how small it may be? That
said, there are still better and more deserving films awaiting
your hard earned dollars at the cinemas right now.
get me wrong. File The Island away for a rainy
day or a nice DVD rental, because it will entertain nonetheless.