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Published: 2005-07-30 - 14:04:00
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The Island Review

By Joe Lozito

"Island" Floppin'

Michael Bay has never been a thinking man's director, but with the pseudo-sci-fi claptrap "The Island" he not only asks for a suspension of disbelief but he requires that the audience not even know the word "why".

I don't remember the last time I watched a movie that vacillated so frequently between a "no stars" and "half a star" rating. It could be that I just really wanted to find something to like in "The Island" but there is nothing - not the stunts, the chases, the explosions, the characters, the plot - nothing to recommend in this film. It's just an overblown excuse for blatant product placement (oh, look, an MSN phone booth!) without a shred of intelligence.

Even the best chase scene in the film, which finds our heroes rolling huge spindles off the back of a moving flatbed, suffers from the "why doesn't the driver just stop the truck?!" question. And how is it possible that in a climactic scene, when the heroine is in the clutches of the villains, she simply produces a gun from her belt and blasts her way out. Are you telling me no one frisked her?! How is it possible that none of the talent surrounding this film asked any of these questions? And that's just two examples in a very long list.

Ewan McGregor can typically save any script he's handed - even "Attack of the Clones" - and Scarlett Johansson is inherently likable (though she's starting to make us wonder if "Lost in Translation" was a fluke), but even these two attractive leads can't save the script by a team of three writers who would probably prefer to remain nameless. Ewan has some fun in a very convincing scene with himself (the usual "clone meets original" nonsense) and Scarlett, buffed to glossy perfection, is at her best when she keeps her mouth closed. I don't mean that to sound sexist, I just mean that she is not given a single good line.

As Lincoln Six-Echo and Jordan Two-Delta (the film's creativity stops there), they live in one of those glassed-in sci-fi worlds where everyone wears the same white jumpsuit. I guess it's only fair that a movie about clones should be a poor imitation of so many superior films, I just can't figure out why none of the makers of "Logan's Run" is suing for this one. One day, with the help of Steve Buscemi (phoning it in), they discover that (guess what?!) everything they know is a lie. They are actually clones harvested as insurance policies for the rich and powerful.

Lincoln and Jordan manage to escape extremely easily and are pursued by perhaps the worst assassin ever put on film. Laurent (Djimon Hounsou, always a commanding presence) is one of those Black Ops guys with a team of henchmen just waiting to be called in on a mission like this one. Amazingly, none of them can hit the side of a barn with an automatic weapon, and Laurent is no genius himself. At one point, after a major traffic pile-up and a very public shoot-out with police, he actually says "If we can't kill them quietly, we'll have to be loud." Um, Djimon...that ship sailed a long time ago.

I like a good action film as much as the next guy, and Michael Bay's name is more or less synonymous with action, but what little quality his films had in the past has steadily declined since 1995's "Bad Boys". He never made any bones about the fact that he's not looking to make a masterpiece. But now it's as if he just doesn't care.

What did you think?

Movie title The Island
Release year 2005
MPAA Rating PG-13
Our rating
Summary Relentlessly stupid clone thriller is a new low for both director Michael Bay and the art of blatant product placement.
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