Directed by Michael Bay
136 minutes (PG rating)
Commentary by Kevin Miller
It is ironic and yet not altogether surprising that a film about cloning seems to have been derived from so many of its predecessors. Minority Report, THX-1138, Logan’s Run, and The Matrix all form part of The Island’s exemplary DNA. Whether this rich heritage enhances or takes away from your viewing experience depends on whether or not you’ve already enjoyed the original films. If not, then welcome to a brave new world. If so, then The Island can’t help but suffer under the law of diminishing returns.
Even if you ignore the fact that The Island has cannibalized so many previous sci-fi classics, the movie still struggles under its own internal implausibility factor. I’m not talking about the main premise, which asks, “What if a company allowed you to clone a copy of yourself to be used for spare parts?” “What if one of those clones figured out what was going on?” and “What if one of those clones was you?” Interesting questions, all. It’s the little things that bring this film down, such as how easy it is for the hero, Lincoln Six Echo, to figure out what’s going on, the unbelievable escapes, the overly graphic “vehicular porn” (voyeuristic exploitation and destruction of impossibly beautiful vehicles), and the borderline deus ex machina ending.
Despite these and other flaws, The Island is still a lot of fun. It also reads as an intriguing spiritual parable. Like Lincoln Six Echo, we all live under a system that lies to us. In the film, Lincoln and his fellow clones are made to believe that the entire world has been contaminated, and they are the only survivors. The last remaining piece of uncontaminated soil is “the Island,” and the only way to get there is through winning the daily lottery. In reality, of course, winning the lottery has much darker implications for the clones. What starts out as a trip to Paradise very quickly takes on hellish proportions. The lies our society tells us—that being beautiful, rich, and powerful is all that matters—are different from the lies told in this film, but they still fill us with the same false hopes. Like Lincoln, our only chance for survival is to discover the truth behind the lies before our own number comes up.
@ 2005 Kevin Miller.