The Island (2005)

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, Djimoun Hounsou

Directed by: Michael Bay

Rating: 1 2 and a half

Run! RUN!! RUN!!! Scarlet Johansson and Ewan McGregor in The Island

Thought I'd take a break from the Edinburgh International Film Festival and head for my usual multiplex to see summer sci-fi 'blockbuster' The Island. Oh dear. I really shouldn't have bothered.

A cross between Logan's Run, Minority Report and The Matrix (but nowhere near as good as any of 'em), the concept of the film seems pretty cool. The year is 2019, and a community of nuclear blast survivors live in a highly controlled laboratory-like system of high rises, where they are kept safe from the deadly contamination outside by an army of doctors, guards and supervisors. Their one aim in life is to win the Lottery, which allows them to escape their mundane existences and head for a far away paradise known as the Island, the one place on earth untouched by the blast.

Except of course they're not. They're actually 'products', clones who've been grown as replacement body parts for rich folks. There is of course, no Island, just a messy death on an operating table. Nice.

Things get off to a promising enough start (once we've got past the rubbish dream sequence at the beginning) as Lincoln 6 Echo (Ewan McGregor) begins to question his artificial surroundings: 'Why do we all wear white?' he asks. 'It's impossible to keep clean.' (Answer: cuz you're a clone and it's The Future. Go figure.) Of course it doesn't take him long to figure out that the Island doesn't exist, and soon he and fellow 'product' Jordan 2 Delta (Scarlet Johansson in 'even more annoying than usual' mode) find themselves on the run. And from then on that's pretty much all they do: run. RUN! RUN!! Whilst rubbish car chases and other unexciting, poorly conceived action sequences unfold unconvincingly around them and the audience abandons any pretence of giving a fig about what happens to them.

Ewan and Ewan  run 500 miles in The Island

Even a lively cameo from Steve Buscemi and the presence of a somewhat bored looking Sean Bean as the institute's God-like director, Dr Merrick (is it supposed to be ironic that he has the same name as the most famous genetic freak of all times or is it just a coincidence? Probably a coincidence.) can't save this pile of pants from being, well, kinda pooey really. Nor can the unintentional moments of humour, such as the scene when Lincoln 2 Delta comes face to face with his 'sponsor', also of course played by Ewan McGregor, and thus invents the Proclaimers. Ho ho.

Much could have been made, Blast from the Past style, of the naïve clones' struggle to assimilate to the world outside (they have never handled money, drunk alcohol or seen a live animal; and they haven't been 'imprinted with the sex urge' either - what??!) but instead we get lots of pointless shoot outs and Scarlet Johansson hyperventilating. As for the 'futuristic' world outside the Institute - it's 2005 with funny hovering trains. Everything else remains firmly grounded in the present day. even down to the adverts, for crying out loud!

Shoddy production values, a ridiculous plot with more holes than a slice of Leerdammer cheese, characters which make Dolly the sheep looking interesting, blatant product placement of I, Robot style proportions and a running time (literally) that's about forty minutes too long will leave you feeling bored, uncomfortable, exasperated and cheated. Somewhere deep inside this crap, there's a fascinating, challenging film to be made. Just a shame that The Island isn't it.

'I know everyone will slag me off for being in this shite,' McGregor has been heard to say, 'But if you don't do action, you don't get anywhere in Hollywood.' But perhaps going nowhere is preferable to running. like a turkey.

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