Reviews: The Island

Seeds of Bay's downfall

This film is chiefly notable for two things: it was the last (somewhat) thoughtful film Bay’s done before he settled into his Transformers career path (although Pain and Gain shows hopes of a comeback), it had great soundtrack by Steve Jablonsky, and it was a complete rip-off of a 1980’s Clonus Horror, the studio losing 13 million when the latter’s creators proved 90+ similarities in a lawsuit. The film tanked even before the lawsuit, though: to me, very deservedly.

The dialogue here is a marked step-down from Pearl Harbor (which wasn’t that great either). If Affleck and Beckinsale’s lines in that film were rather unpredictable, if not always good, here the dialogue is bland and lacks impact. The supposed moral ambiguity is weak: Lincoln’s buyer is an unsympathetic, materialistic jerk, the daughter of Delta’s client appears too briefly to have much impact and facility’s manager is obviously in it for the money, lacking any redeeming characteristics. Death of a clone used as a surrogate mother is the only well-shot death in the film: it is hard to watch poison course through the drip, her ankles held by the nurse as she helplessly expires. All other deaths are quick, clinical and predictable (especially villain’s death by gravity) and are forgotten after the act. Black sportsman’s clone is the exception: we are reminded of him when a poster of his client is shown once in the city, but the actual death is clichéd and unbelievable: he actually wakes up during surgery and manages to run off into the corridor before getting dragged in, which just looks stupid.

Product placement is not too frequent, but immediately obvious: during a virtual boxing scene, Xbox’s logo is in sight for at least 5 minutes. Early on, an ally of our heroes is shot on train station in plain sight by hired mercs, yet the police don’t care at all. In film’s biggest action scene, a truck, several cars and a flying jetbike thing are blown up in a true Bay fashion (another jetbike gets hijacked by protagonists) on an open highway in front of hundreds of witnesses, again with no consequences. Finally, an emergency ladder to the hospital leads to a hatch underneath a tile in the midst of a corridor, with the people who built the place apparently oblivious to it. The film does impress with its high production values and the leads act well too, but overall, it’s hardly worth a watch.