Review: The Island

This won't hurt a bit

The story in The Island is quite intriguing. It depicts a future in which human beings, very wealthy human beings, order clones of themselves with a corporation that grows them in a vast underground city. The clones are clueless, grown into adults and then memories implanted, and they are told that a certain kind of “contamination” has killed everything on the planet and that aside from the underground sanctuary, there is one last place that is still safe: The Island. For reasons unknown, not everyone can go to the Island and so every day there is a lottery in which someone’s number is pulled to be the lucky winner. The clones dont know they are clones and they really believe this to be the reality.

Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) and Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor)

The movie is about slowly deconstructing that fantasy, that almost utopian future and revealing some of the ugly truth inherent in the human condition. The humans depicted in this future are so obsessed with youth and living forever, just like today I think, that they have deliberately turned a blind eye to what is happening to other human beings in their society. There is a powerful scene in the movie where a pregnant woman is supposed ot go to the island, but of course that is not going to happen. She gives birth and immediately after is given an injection and disposed off.  The business woman finishing up the transaction holds the baby in her arms and watches the mother die, before delivering the baby to the parents that ordered it. The new mother that holds the baby is the genetic original of the clone that was just killed. The business woman then closes the deal by offering to bring them the “termination papers” of their “insurance policy”.

When their live organ is running out on them

However, while this movie started strongly, it ended on a rather slow note. Of course not literally – which is precisely what the problem with this movie is. I feel as if there is almost a clear division  and that it can be divided into two parts: the first part entices us quite intelligently into this fascinating future and there is a lot of potential that is set up here, trying to answers questions about morality, the limits of science and the human soul. But the second part, which goes into overdrive, ends up being a lot of bang bang, super action, one long car chase scene with crashes and explosions. There is a pause and then the quality of the film emerges again. But as soon as the car chase scenes a la Michael Bay style begin, everything goes downhill. I really wish they had continued on that strong beginning instead of allowing it to fizzle into mediocrity. The ending was pretty good though and connected the beginning with it.

Despite the one short coming I think this movie is quite underrated in the message it attempts to convey and the quality with respect to *how* it was done. The actors truly inhabit the roles they are portraying, and so they are believable. The chemistry between McGreggor and Johansson is great and I thought the cinematography and soundtrack were amazing, truly conveying the mood of the movie about a future not too far from ours.

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