Saw The Island. My eyes hurt. So much action. So many explosions. So few words. Three-word sentences. That’s what’s allowed. More too confusing. Maybe too smart. But things explode. Lots of things. And people run.
Like the destination that the characters dream of in the film, The Island is dressed to be sexy. The lighting is pretty, the costumes all match, the actors are all gorgeous, lots of things are shiny. But it’s all just a facade for something more sinister, something so loud and proud that it literally hurt.
I’ll happily admit I can enjoy a Michael Bay film. The Rock is one of the better popcorn action films in the past 15 years. And while the first and third acts of Pearl Harbor are in the realm of the ridiculous, the action in the middle of the film is exhilarating. He knows how to do action. I also think he knows that story is secondary to his visuals. He employs a quick-cut approach to his scenes where everything flashes by. He’s also into lots of noise. When guns shoot and things explode, you feel it. The Island is no different. While the concept is pretty smart, it doesn’t take long for it to get dumbed down and have the whole film become a big smash-fest of sensory overload.
The plot and theme of the film is in many ways similar to a personal favourite of mine, Logan’s Run. Set in the near future, the apparent few survivors of a catastrophic contamination live very controlled lives in carefully monitored sectors. Individuality is largely discouraged while tiptop health is the most important part of life. Everyone shares but one aspiration – to be selected to move to the island, a paradise with clean air. Turns out these “survivors” are merely clones destined to have their organs harvested and the island is all a rouse. Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Six Delta (Scarlett Johansson) are the first to discover the cover-up and try to escape into the outside world. From there things go boom.
Like Bay’s past films, The Island stands out in how it looks. Much of the lighting reflects the solitude and paradise that awaits life at the island. When things get revved up, each frame unto itself is a sight to behold but they’re just flashing by so quickly I often had a hard time keeping up with them. Maybe I’m just getting old.
Ultimately, though, the action acts as a diversion from a script riddled with mindless dialogue. I noticed about half way through how short Jordan’s lines were. Three words, two, one. The same was largely true for Lincoln as well. One could argue they are clones with the intellect of a teenager but I’m not biting. When you look at it, Jordan is nothing more than another piece of Bay-ian eye candy. She’s pretty and a nice accessory to Lincoln’s arm but she serves no purpose to the story. Lincoln could have easily embarked on his journey solo and the result would have been the same.
It took a good two hours for my eyes to recover from seeing The Island. They actually hurt. Not even a Tony Scott film has done that to me. But like I said, perhaps I’m just getting older and things-go-boom just might not have the same appeal anymore. Who am I kidding? Of course they do. Just provide a little reason for a story and the occasional sensory break.
The Island Gallery
The Island Trailer