If there is one thing that will always hack me off about Hollywood, it’s the fact that 9 times out of 10, the director will try to do too much. Take The Island, the latest film from action director Michael Bay – it had a great ending, about 20 minutes from the end. Yet, for the last 20 minutes of the film we had an extra ending which really didn’t need to be there.
The Island stars Ewan McGregor as Lincoln 6 Echo, a genetic clone who discovers that he has been harvested to provide parts for his sponsor, Tom Lincoln, his owner on earth. Lincoln 6 Echo finds out that he is being held in a utopian-style facility, run by the evil Dr Merrick (Sean Bean) buried under the Arizona desert, and eventually makes an escape, with Jordan 2 Delta (Scarlett Johansson) in tow.
As you can probably guess, the movie follows Lincoln 6 Echo as he figures out what is going on, escapes and is hunted down. In fact, the movie is so clear cut in this that you can effectively split it into 3 distinct parts.
The first 50 minutes is Lincoln figuring out that there is more to life than he thinks, and follows him trying to escape. This first ‘act’ ends with his dramatic escape from the facility where he is held.
The second act is the chase – Djimon Hounsou appears as a bounty hunter, and tracks Lincoln 6 Echo to Los Angeles, where he is trying to track down his sponsor. It ends with a rather dramatic scene where Lincoln faces his sponsor in a desperate move to survive.
In a perfect world, the movie should have ended here. However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and unfortunately, Michael Bay ultimately decided to have another 20 minute act on the end, which neatly ties up the movie.
Not that the final sequence of events ruins the film or anything – I just think it was totally unnecessary.
(By the way, I’m not going to tell you what happens in these last 20 minutes – you’ll have to see the movie).
In truth, The Island is an intelligent science-fiction film, taking a stance on the human side of cloning, and in particular, what could happen if it went wrong. The lessons it teaches aren’t overly harsh or disturbing, but they are clear.
Some of the best scenes in the movie occur when Lincoln faces himself (with Ewan McGregor even using a thick Scottish accent for his sponsor, to contrast with the American accent of the clone).
As for the movie itself, it looks stunning. Michael Bay has a long, proud history of big, glorious action movies, having directed such classics as The Rock, Armageddon, and the Bad Boys series. Bay loves big action scenes, and 2 scenes in particular stand out – one takes place on one of the highways of LA, and is vaguely reminiscent of a chase scene in Bad Boys 2, while the other takes place on a jet-bike and a giant sign on the side of a skyscraper.
The only problem Michael Bay had is that he had a pretty decent story to cover for a change, and while many reviewers have pointed at this as the weakness in The Island, I actually think Bay does a pretty good job handling the storyline aspects of the movie – and even achieves them with a couple of handy cameos from Steve Buscemi and Michael Clarke Duncan. The story ticks along nicely, and I can’t recall any major unanswered questions at the conclusion of the film.
Aside from the ending, the only other niggle I have is the product placement, which appears to have been put on overdrive. The MSN, Xbox, NBC, Puma and Cadillac brands are all prominently featured here, adding very little to the story. Again, this is really just a fussy niggle from me – it makes no difference in the long run.
Overall, The Island is a pretty intelligent film from Michael Bay, and a departure from his normal films, yet it still carries his unique stamp of action. I give it an 8 out of 10. The fact that the last 20 minutes were totally unnecessary, and the product placement, really don’t make that big a difference – neither damaged the film in any way.
Of course, that doesn’t mean they weren’t unnecessary.