The Island (2005) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Michael Bay’s overlooked 2005 sci-fi actioneer is an enormously entertaining spectacle, that weaves in fantastical elements dealing with human cloning alongside an exemplary chase picture. Bay and his craftsmen have created a stunning action picture that resonates because of its imaginative story and the arresting visual beauty of nearly every frame.

Ewan Mcgregor and Scarlett Johansson star as residents of an isolated, highly organized and policed futuristic compound. They are instructed in every aspect of their lives, and physical contact is frowned upon. Things are run by a doctor (Sean Bean) who controls all the elements of the resident’s existence. Nightly drawings are held for winners who are granted departure to ‘the island’, humanity’s last untarnished livable environment. However, inconsistencies arise when one winner is seen being used as an unwilling donor for a wealthy patient. This forces Mcgregor to do some mischievous investigating, teaming up with a facility worker (Steve Buscemi) with lose lips and a guilty conscious. He lets on that McGregor and his fellow peers are actually clones, grown to be harvested for valuable organs, to their human counterparts.

This leads to Mcgregor and Johansson fleeing the compound and traveling through the desert into the supposed wasteland. But, alas the pair find that the world is in working order and everything they have been taught was disinformation and lies. Now, battling an unfamiliar and socially chaotic environment, the clones find themselves being pursued by a former warlord (Dijmon Hounsou) and his team of mercenaries. The climax of the chase and the film is a spectacular pursuit by vehicle over a freeway while dodging fellow cars and metal objects being thrown from the back of a truck. This incredible sequence is nearly outdone by a thrilling scene that finds our heroes dangling from a corporate logo attached to a building 100 stories in the air.

The Island didn’t find a wide audience in theaters and I can’t understand the reason. Perhaps, McGregor and Johansson weren’t big enough stars to ‘open’ the picture. Maybe, Bay’s growing nepotism and industry backlash/jealousy saddled the film with unfairly bad buzz going into its release. Whatever the case, The Island deserves to be discovered by new audiences less familiar with the back story of the production. This is a great movie, aided by a majestic score from frequent Bay collaborator Steven Jablonsky.

Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Ewan Mcgregor, Scarlett Johansson, Dijmon Hounsou

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