Cast: Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan, Ethan Phillips, Brian Stepanek
Director: Michael Bay
Screenplay: Caspian Tredwell-Owen and Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci
Genre: Action/Science Fiction/Thriller
Rated: M moderate violence, infrequent coarse language, mature theme
Running Time: 138 Minutes
They Don't Want You To Know What You Are
Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson) are among the hundreds of residents of a contained facility in the mid-21st Century. Like all of the inhabitants of this carefully controlled environment, everything about their day-to-day lives is monitored, seemingly for their own good. The only way out - and the hope they all share - is to be chosen to go to the "The Island" - the last uncontaminated spot in the world following an ecological disaster that reportedly took the lives of everyone on the planet…except them.
Set in the not-too-distant future, 'The Island' is a combination of science fiction and action-thriller. Feeling like two movies joined at the hip, the first half tells the story of Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) and his disillusionment with his life and his budding curiosity, which leads him to escape his abode with Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson). Lincoln and Jordan live in a futuristic facility, headed by the corrupt Merrick (a sinister Sean Bean), where their lives are monitored and controlled, even to the point of their exact nutritional requirements. They believe there was a mass contamination in the "outside former" world, and they were some of the lucky survivors. Their future hangs on a lottery where winners get to re-locate to "The Island", the one remaining pathogen free zone on earth. When Jordan wins the lottery, Lincoln impulsively snatches her, and they escape underground eventually finding "the real world".
Whilst in the facility, Lincoln had befriended a maintenance worker, McCord (a typically cleverly amusing Steve Buscemi), who reveals the real secret of their existence - they are actually clones. This revelation somehow compels them to find their original counterparts, which they hope will eventually reveal to the world the true nature of existence and of sinister events at Merrick Biotech. Enter the second half of the movie, which sees Lincoln and Jordan in the real world trying to evade the facility's security team, lead by Laurent (Djimon Hounsou).
Struggling to find its rightful genre, 'The Island' is almost too much of a combination. The first half has a fascinating science fiction theory - the mass production of human clones - whilst the second half is filled with relentless action, mainly involving shootings and the obligatory freeway car chases where untold vehicles are spectacularly destroyed. The first half of the movie really is the calm before the storm.
Ewan McGregor is excellent in the dual roles of Lincoln Six-Echo and his human counterpart, the Scottish Tom Lincoln, maintaining a very strong consistency throughout. A highlight here is the scene involving both of these characters in a final shootout where each tries to lay claim to being the "real" Tom Lincoln.
Scarlett Johansson is as ever, a screen magnet who just exudes class and competence. Her role, whilst smaller than McGregor's, is still significant and she handles it effortlessly.
Supporting cast are all excellent, especially Buscemi who manages to get the best sarcastic lines - "why do I have to be the one who has to tell that Father Christmas isn't real?"
'The Island' is overly long and could have done with some trimming, especially in the somewhat trite conclusion but that does not eliminate the overall strength and impact this premise has - the cloning of humans and the ethical implications. With a very strong performance from Ewan McGregor, 'The Island' is certainly worth visiting, albeit just for a brief holiday.
Rating : ***½