The Island

A Frankenstein's monster of a movie that shamelessly samples THESE ARE THE DAMNED (1963), LOGAN'S RUN (1976), COMA (1978), BLADE RUNNER (1982), THE MATRIX (1999), THE 6TH DAY (2000) and, especially, the obscure PARTS: THE CLONUS HORROR (1979), adrenaline-junkie Michael Bay's stab at grafting his brand of high-octane mayhem onto an idea-driven sci-fi story...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A Frankenstein's monster of a movie that shamelessly samples THESE ARE THE DAMNED (1963), LOGAN'S RUN (1976), COMA (1978), BLADE RUNNER (1982), THE MATRIX (1999), THE 6TH DAY (2000) and, especially, the obscure PARTS: THE CLONUS HORROR (1979), adrenaline-junkie Michael Bay's stab at grafting his brand of high-octane mayhem onto an idea-driven sci-fi story gets off to a promising start before degenerating into endless car chases and stuff blowing up. In the year 2019, global catastrophe has poisoned the entire world, with the exception of a single pristine island. A small colony of survivors lives in a high-tech, glassed-in complex with a tantalizing view of the deep blue sea, coddled by benevolently strict overseers who ensure their health and happiness through diet, exercise and mandatory counseling. A random lottery determines who among the colonists will be relocated to the island. Cursed with curiosity, Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) starts wondering things, and the more he thinks about his world, the more it feels like a cushy prison. Why can't he have bacon for breakfast or wear something other than a white tracksuit? Who made the "proximity rules" that keep his relationship with beautiful Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson) stalled in presexual palling around? How are new survivors still being found years after the global calamity? And if the world is a lifeless wasteland, where did the flying insect he found in an off-limits corner of the complex come from? It's only a matter of time before nosy Lincoln uncovers the chilling truth: The colony is an agnate facility — fancy talk for clone farm — and he's its product, spare parts for someone with millions to spend on insurance against illness, accidents and the routine indignities of age. For a slick pop entertainment, more than the usual quotient of timely ideas rattle around between the relentless product placements and futuristic geegaws, including big questions about the essential nature of humanity. But once Lincoln and Jordan escape, it's all nonstop action as usual — formulaic, noisy, implausible and exactly as interesting as individual tolerance for video game-style bedlam allows. The above-average cast — including Sean Bean as the colony's suavely sinister Dr. Merrick, Steve Buscemi as a cynical working stiff and Djimon Hounsou as the mercenary charged with retrieving the fugitives — deliver real performances, but there's only so much they can do once the demolition derby starts. They're only human, after all.

Peter Weber, <em>The Bachelor</em>
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