The year was 2005 and Michael Bay was looking to try something new… Sort of.
He was looking to try his hand at a genre he had never attempted before, Sci-Fi. So what did he do? Why, he surrounded himself with some of the people that do it best, of course. Some of those people being Steven Spielberg, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.
And what did the combination of these four titans give us? Why, Michael Bay’s only box-office disappointment but most under rated film, The Island.
I didn’t have the opportunity to catch The Island until three years later however when I was first starting to realize my passion for all things Michael Bay. But even on DVD I knew that this was a special film. It was a film that contained a little bit of everything and yet managed to make it, it’s own.
Why We love It
There are three groups of people that like this film: Michael Bay fans, action fans and Sci-Fi fans. And each one has their own reasons.
Michael Bay fans (which is the group I fall under) love it because the film is the man at his finest. It’s Bay trying to prove something. In this case he was trying to prove that he could pull of successful characters. And for my money, he succeeded. I really did feel for Lincoln Six Echo and Jordan Two Delta throughout the film. I could honestly believe that these two people were adults educated to the level of a fifteen year old who had no concept of an outside world. And even though there was a lot of Bay 2.0 in The Island, there was plenty of Bay classic to be thrown around as well.
Which brings me to the next group, action fans. Now this group did have to wait till about the half way point when the film becomes a non-stop chase scene. But, once The Island starts down this path, it never stops. And nothing, absolutely nothing beats that amazing highway chase that sent cars essentially floating in mid air. It is at that moment you truly know your watching a Michael Bay movie.
And finally there are the Sci-Fi fans. Bay does a great job at creating a sterile world that we get to chill in for about an hour while all the films elements are being put into place. And this world, despite a lot of advertising, is believable. In fifty to a hundred years, a place like this could totally exist.
And let’s not forget The Island‘s amazing supporting cast consisting of heavy hitters such as Steve Buscemi who becomes the films exposition man, but is able to really play up the laughs. Sean Bean as a power hungry CEO who strikes fear into the audience with his cold, empty expressions of fake empathy for the clones. Djimon Hounsou as one heck of a bad ass mercenary who finds his soul by the end of the film. And of course Michael Clarke Duncan who is simply awesome at just being Michael Clarke Duncan. I don’t think anyone will deny that Michael Bay has a really good eye for character actors and The Island is no exception. Everyone brings their A-game and it shows.
And as for the depiction of Bay’s future world is concerned, it completely works. Bay took a realistic approach to his future were technology has improved but not to the exponential point where everyone has a flying car and a micro chip in their head. Instead, Bay’s future is full of advertising and really good public transportation.
Sounds fine to me.
The Moment We Fell In Love
The Island‘s crowning achievement comes at the seventy minute mark. Lincoln and Jordan are hold up in a storage closet being chased by one of the bad guys when Jordan finds a nail gun. When the man goes to open the door, she fires three nails into his arm and the two of them get away.
This scene was full of heart-stopping tension that proved to me Bay was once again growing beyond explosions as a filmmaker. This moment also served as a bridge between the the first and second halves of the film because after this moment, no one stops running for the remainder of the movie.
It’s the first moment that Jordan and Lincoln realize that the world is a painful place. At that moment I sat up and cheered for the fugitive clones, happy to see them begin to understand the basic idea of survival.
The Island is what happens when a director wants to try something new and fresh. It’s what happens when someone wants to, even slightly, move away from their comfort zone.
The Island is a very enjoyable film with plenty for the viewer to chew on. Despite what some critics would have you believe. Whether it be the ultra intense highway chase, the final showdown or a little Steve Buscemi, The Island has something for everyone, and that’s why I love it.
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