Island (2005), The (PG-13) ★★½

Review Date: July 22nd, 2005

The Island is about two clones who don't know they are clones, and upon finding out the truth, escape their high-security surroundings and are chased all over Los Angeles. It doesn't make a lick of sense, of course, but we don't care. This is the real Attack of the Clones, baby!

Story

Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson)--and with names like that, you've got to be somewhat suspicious--are among the hundreds of residents of a contained facility somewhere in the not-too-distant future. They are told that they are survivors of a global ecological disaster and therefore must live under a carefully controlled environment, with their day-to-day lives monitored to the nth degree, seemingly for their own good. The only way out is to be chosen to go to the Island, the last uncontaminated spot on earth, with the ''lucky'' few picked ''randomly'' from a lottery. Yeah, right. Lincoln is curious about it all. He wants to know why he's there, what's his purpose, and is the Island really all there is. And his dogged inquisitiveness eventually leads him to the awful truth: the Island is a cruel hoax, and he and his friend Jordan are in some deep doo-doo. See, they're actually clones, an insurance policy, as it were, who are more valuable dead than alive. So, they run. And run. And then really run. Just like Logan 5 and Jessica 6 did in Logan's Run, breaking through to the wondrous and dangerous world outside. Hot on their trail, however, are the powers that be. They obviously can't have their ''product'' running around willy-nilly. But Lincoln and Jordan want to live, dammit, and will stop at nothing to achieve their mission.

Acting

McGregor and Johansson are sufficiently scrubbed and polished as the near-perfect Lincoln and Jordan, aptly conveying a childlike wonderment--first to their burgeoning feelings for one another at the facility, then to the horror of the truth and finally to their new surroundings in the real world. The actors also fair well as action heroes, as their characters get a crash course in how to outrun trained military operatives, master high-tech machinery and, well, make love. It's not as easy as it looks, let me tell you--except maybe the last thing. I mean, crashing a hovercraft-like motorcycle through a high-rise building and falling several hundred feet with nary a scratch on them is pretty darn impressive. The beauteous pair are also supported by an eclectic group. They include Djimon Hounsou (In America) as the mysterious special ops leader relentlessly hunting down Jordan and Lincoln, and Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) as the morally compromised doctor running the cloning institute. And if you want to add a little screwy humor to your full-blown action flick, hire Steve Buscemi (remember him in Con Air?). He plays a technician at the facility who befriends Lincoln--and lets him know how it really is.

Direction

Director Michael Bay--known for such vapid but action-packed thrillers as The Rock, Armageddon and the Bad Boys series--hasn't ever made a film without his anchor, the grand pooh-bah himself, producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The Island is the first time the director is flying solo--and apparently, Bruckheimer was a little peeved when he found out about it. According to Entertainment Weekly, the producer told Bay, ''Just so you know, we passed on it.'' Ouch. But you know what? Bay does just fine without the Bruckmeister, turning in his most compelling movie to date--and that's really saying something. Screenwriter Caspian Tredwell-Owen, obviously influenced by George Orwell's 1984 and the campy 1976 Logan's Run, turned in an original script that was a tad too cerebral; it had to be Bay-ified. So, young writing upstarts Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci were brought in to add that all-important action elements. Of course, the idea that sometime in the future, for the right amount of money, you could have a clone made of yourself to use in case something happens to you, seems intriguing. And mix some good old-fashioned run-for-your-life smash 'em ups, the combination pays off.

Bottom Line

Perhaps The Island will get you thinking about the adverse effects of human cloning. Oh, who are we kidding? We just want to see cars crash, stuff get blown up and Scarlett Johansson. This is a Michael Bay movie, after all.