Island, The

Paradise Lost

Main Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Ewan McGregor, Sean Bean, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Bay

Plot Summary: In an utopian city in the near future, things seem perfect. The people are happy, albeit segregated by sex, and everyone dreams of winning a lottery to fly off to “the Island”, an even more wondrous place. Or is it?

Mixing a few genres, this sci-fi action/thriller is a pretty good yarn saved by the professionalism of its two young actors. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson elevate a rather clich├ęd plot into something exciting and dramatic.

McGregor is Lincoln Six-Echo. Johansson is Jordan Two-Delta. Okay, weird names, but the city seems like a pretty nice place to live. Clean, beautiful, and filled with more-or-less happy people, there are a few ripples that mar the cheerful surface. Guards do regulate things, especially emotion. People must not display it overmuch, as history states that emotion brought about wars that decimated most of the population. Only order and structure must prevail to keep things in check. Not a bad philosophy, as these things go, but very hard to implement. Thus the mixing of the two sexes are particularly watched over, with many rules to keep men and women at arm’s length. Most of the time.

Lincoln, like everyone else, would like to win the lottery. Through constant ads and PR videos, the Island looks like a dream come true. When Jordan, Lincoln’s friend, does indeed win, he is very happy for her. Until… well, his curiosity does lead him to check out certain things in the city that don’t make sense. I won’t give anything away, of course, but let’s just say that the Island isn’t exactly the happy vacation spot advertised.

Lincoln and Jordan do manage to get out of the city, of course. And learn of the real world, where things aren’t as regulated or controlled. And they do learn about why they have curious memory lapses and interesting, if fragmented, dreams. Once they are out the chase is on. The leader of the city (Bean) sends out his security chief (Hounsou) to track down and bring the two fugitives back.

The plot slides along smoothly. While the two are unsophisticated, they are not stupid, and catch on fairly quickly on how the world works. They are helped along by the delightfully cynical Steve Buscemi, friend of Lincoln, and also meet up with a very surprising (and surprised) man who may provide some answers.

Overall this is a taunt sci-fi thriller with scenes of exciting action fights and chases. While the story has been told before, this version adds a few fresh scenes, and the two lead actors are solid veterans and lend a bright gloss to the whole offering.

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