"Everyone wants to live forever. It's the new American dream." So says a character in "The Island," the latest pyro-fest from Michael Bay, director of "Armageddon" and "Pearl Harbor." But this film, which opens nationwide today, offers more than slick car chases and explosions; it offers story, too.
Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. ( DreamWorks/Warner Bros.)
So says a character in "The Island," the latest pyro-fest from Michael Bay, director of "Armageddon" and "Pearl Harbor." But this film, which opens nationwide today, offers more than slick car chases and explosions; it offers story, too.
Ewan McGregor stars as Lincoln Six Echo, resident of an anti-septic civilization a few decades into our future. He's virtually undifferentiated from his fellow citizens: They all wear white jumpsuits, swipe bar-coded wristbands for just about everything, and live in a rigorously monitored, highly contained environment.
It seems everyone lives to win the lottery, which means being chosen to go to "the island." The island, they're told, is a pathogen-free zone—unlike the rest of the outside world, which has been contaminated and requires their daily, albeit utopian, containment.
Lincoln Six Echo, however, is unhappy—something virtually unheard of.
"I want more," he tells the sector's doctor, played terrifically by Sean Bean ("The Lord of the Rings," "National Treasure"). Lincoln senses something is wrong, especially when he discovers a flying insect, all of which were supposedly eradicated during the contamination.
When Lincoln's friend, Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson), wins the lottery, Lincoln intervenes, putting the two friends on a hair-raising escape from their sector and into a world neither knows—or even knew existed.
Despite its reported $120 million budget, "The Island" has flown below the radar for big summer movies. For this reason, more details about its plot are generally unknown, and it would be a shame to reveal them here.
The movie, however, is a terrific ride, both visually and narratively. Keeping it that way are not only McGregor, Johansson and Bean, but also Steve Buscemi (as Lincoln's friend) and Djimon Hounsou (as a paramilitary man of few words).
The film combines elements of "Minority Report," "The Truman Show" and "The Running Man" and emerges, curiously enough, as a pro-life movie, of sorts.
"The Island" may stretch on a bit too long, and Bay's camera is at times just too frenetic (as usual), but the film is a terrific entry into the science-fiction genre. The humor sticks, the story resonates and the explosions don't disappoint.
"The Island," in a glitzy, big-budget, popcorn-munching way, will ultimately remind you that the truth will set you free.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexuality and language. Reviewer's Note: The film is built out of moral components as well as exploding vehicles.
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Caspian Tredwell-Owen and Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci
Cast: Lincoln Six Echo: Ewan McGregor; Jordan Two Delta: Scarlett Johansson; Albert Laurent: Djimon Hounsou; Merrick: Sean Bean; McCord: Steve Buscemi; Starkweather: Michael Clarke Duncan.
The movie's official Web site is here.