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Hollywood seems to be giving us quite a lot of dystopian visions of the future lately. From The Matrix to Minority Report to I, Robot, the movie-going public seems to love this genre, and The Island is the latest film to embrace the theme.
The movie begins with the lead character (Lincoln Six Echo, played by Ewan McGregor) waking from a nightmare. The futuristic complex he lives in is inhabited by several hundred others, all of whom are dressed in white tracksuits that are provided for them. The place is also full of security guards, dressed in black (naturally), who spend their time intervening whenever any of the inmates does something wrong, such as getting too close to a member of the opposite sex ("that is a proximity violation").
The white suited inmates believe that the complex is a refuge for survivors of a global catastrophy, and that the only uncontaminated place left on the planet is an island, to which they all hope eventually to go, by virtue of a lottery in which individuals are picked at random intervals. However, as the film's trailers will already have told you, this entire setup is a lie.
The lead character discovers the deception, and makes a break for freedom, taking a fellow inmate, Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) with him, and together they embark on a quest to discover the truth.
The truth is that they are all clones, and in fact they discover most of the important details fairly early on after their escape, after which the film offers very little in the way of surprises. What it does offer is action. Lots of action
As it turns out, learning the truth involves repeatedly escaping from burning wreckage as a gang of assassins chases them. The chase involves just about everything - trains, helicopters, cars, trucks, motorcycles, tall buildings, and even futuristic flying motorcycles are all combined into a series of increasingly improbable action scenes. Their first day in Los Angeles causes enough damage that any sane police force would have sealed off the entire city. But somehow the chase continues, and as the heroic duo avoid certain death over and over again, a passing workman is amazed enough by their survival to say "Jesus must love you".
The movie has clear influences from other futuristic films, especially The Matrix - some of the technology on display was very similar, and toward the end, when the lead character was fighting the head bad guy and uttered the line "My name is Lincoln", I had an immediate flashback to the the subway scene from The Matrix. And the (somewhat over-the-top) highway chase scene also has echos of a similar scene from The Matrix Reloaded.
The cityscape is suitably futuristically enhanced - the version of Los Angeles in the film has been blessed with an amazing public transport network, with seemingly dozens of monorail lines criss-crossing the city. The timeline given for the film is 2019, which I thought was a bit soon for the amount of civic restructuring that would have been involved - not to mention the cloning and holographic technology on display.
In the end, this is an action movie more than it is science fiction. If you liked I, Robot and Minority Report, you will probably enjoy this one, though I don't think it is as good as either of these films. It is enjoyable enough, though. I give it 7/10.
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