As it’s getting nearer to 2016, the rush is on to mark this 20th anniversary of the one and only Michael Bay. So to carry on, we’re now onto his hugely ambitious and very different ‘The Island’, which turned 10 years old this year.
Following on from a movie like ‘Bad Boys II’ must be insane for anyone, never mind Michael Bay. How do you make an action blockbuster bigger than ‘Bad Boys II’? So naturally he took a step back, looked at his career and thought it was time to take a risk. So he took on this very strange and amazing story, and brought to the screen a very special and still very spectacular new movie. This time, he also didn’t have Jerry Bruckheimer as a producer (and hasn’t since) for the first time in his movie career. With a terrific cast, yet again, including Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson as the leading stars, along with Steve Buscemi, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Clarke Duncan and Sean Bean, ‘The Island’ centers on two clones, Lincoln Echo Six (McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Johansson), who live in a controlled environment along with thousands of other clones, who grow a connection to each other. But when Lincoln begins to question his surroundings and what exactly is on the outside, he discovers a deadly secret as to his purpose and that of everyone else living in the containment. With Jordan at his side, he makes his escape into the real world to fight for his survival and reveal the truth behind the mysterious ‘Island’ every other clone longs to begin a new life upon.
‘The Island’ at its core is a very different movie from Michael Bay’s past works. Although it maintains the high level of action and special effects we expect from him, it actually comes across as a far more serious and reflective movie from the others he’s done, with the exception of ‘Pearl Harbor’. The question of humanity and what if we had a way to survive in the future is asked brilliantly here. Although similar has been done before (There was an infringement lawsuit brought against the writers and studio by the creators of a 1979 movie with the same outline of this movie), ‘The Island’ still breaks new ground and shows us a possible new society and way of living that could very well become our future. It comes across as a very smart and thoughtful movie, never given its full self to the massive action sequences, but rather working alongside them. To many, it may not do much for, but as a long time fan of Bay’s work, I find it a very brave and intelligent change in style and storytelling.
While ‘The Island’ isn’t perfect, the performances from Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson are really fun and energetic, there’s definitely charisma between them. And Scarlett looks stunning. The rest of the cast do a great job, especially the late great Michael Clarke Duncan, who has one of the movie’s most moving scenes. As for the action sequences, Bay gives us what we expect… Lots of explosions, car chases, helicopters at dawn etc… But he also reigns it all in just a little, to focus more on the story and characters, rather than just have one big chase movie. He really does deliver the goods here.
The special effects are nothing short of fantastic. From the massive action sequences to the many high-tech displays inside the containment, everything looks spectacular, filled with mystery and also a bleakness that adds to the movie’s tension and drama. The score from Steve Jablonksy (Who would later score the ‘Transformers’ movies for Bay) is terrific, with plenty of pounding music for those action scenes, and a beautiful main theme that represents the dramatic side to the movie’s narrative. It all works perfectly together. So although ‘The Island’ may not be for everybody, as a fan of Michael Bay’s work, and his trademark ‘Bayhem’, I love this movie, and I respect Bay for taking a chance on something different, even if it didn’t become the hit it deserved to be. I think it fits into his filmography perfectly. If you haven’t seen it, you really should.
Coming next, a piece covering Michael Bay’s mighty ‘Transformers’ movie franchise, with reviews, clips and trivia for all 4 movies up to now. Be sure to check it out.