Lincoln Six Echo lives in a pristine environment where his every need is met. Survivors of the toxic contamination that has destroyed the outside world, he and his compatriots, including friend Jordan Two Delta, should be happy with their lives. Sure, their diet is carefully controlled (Lincoln can’t have so much as a single strip of bacon), their health is constantly monitored and their friendships regulated, but otherwise they have no worries. Moreover, they have one big thing to look forward to: being chosen by the lottery to be transported to The Island, the last uncontaminated place outside this special haven, supposedly a literal heaven on earth.
Still, Lincoln is troubled. First, there’s his recurring nightmare about drowning. But he’s also perpetually curious. What is it about his home that strikes him as not quite right? What isn’t he being told? When a friendly worker (McCord) allows Lincoln into the mechanical back rooms of the facility, his curiosity is further piqued.
After a bit of illicit exploring, Lincoln stumbles onto a terrible secret. All is not as it seems, and he learns that he and his friends are being kept in perfect health for one very scary reason. Most important, he learns that you definitely don’t want to win the lottery to The Island. Not only must he escape if he is to live, but he must also help Jordan, who has just been awarded that fateful trip to The Island.
The preciousness of human life in all its forms is an overarching theme. It’s shown that being human is more than mere biological life, and a man says that people must have some ultimate hope to truly live.
McCord risks his life to help Lincoln and Jordan after they escape. The pair could easily slip away forever, but they decide to risk all by going back to liberate their friends and expose the facility’s evil director, Merrick. [Spoiler Warning] Realizing he’s on the wrong side of the issue, Lincoln and Jordan’s hired pursuer gives them aid at a critical moment.
Merrick is said to have a God complex. When Lincoln asks, “What’s God?” McCord cynically responds, “When you really wish for something and don’t get it, God is the guy who’s ignoring you.”
After Lincoln and Jordan narrowly escape death, a man amazed at their survival says, “Jesus must love you!” A man says his fatal case of hepatitis is “a parting gift from God for all my philandering.”
Merrick justifies his morally repugnant actions by saying, “In a few years I’ll be able to cure leukemia and other childhood diseases. Who else can say that?” The response: “Just you and God, who you’re trying to replace.” Mankind is deemed the product of 3 billion years of evolution.
The man who exclaims over how much Jesus loves Lincoln and Jordan seconds his thought by giving Jordan’s body a visual once-over and smirking, “And I know Jesus loves you.” A man is surprised to learn that Lincoln is a virgin, especially since he’s been traveling with the beautiful Jordan. (He tells Lincoln he’ll be in for a “treat” upon losing his virginity.) Lincoln and Jordan kiss passionately, and he tells her “that tongue thing is amazing.” She’s shown briefly in her bra and, after implied sex, wearing only a towel.
Pregnant women are referred to as “breeders.” Several women wear bikinis or skimpy, cleavage-revealing tops. A dancer in a skimpy outfit gyrates onstage. McCord has pin-up photos on the wall of his office. While looking for clothes for Jordan to change into, McCord holds up a lacy bra; Jordan picks up various costumes designed for sex play. A man misreads a confrontation between Lincoln and McCord in a restroom as a homosexual encounter. A “guard” looks down Jordan’s blouse.
Hey, this wouldn’t be a Michael Bay film without lots of gunplay, cars crashing and flipping through the air, fireballs and crashing helicopters. (Bay directed Pearl Harbor, Armageddon and Bad Boys II, among others.)
The camera follows a bullet in slow-mo as it leaves the gun and thuds into a man’s chest. Ammunition also finds its mark in chests and knees. One Island hopeful is harpooned through the legs with small darts and then dragged backward. Another man is shot through the neck by the same dart gun and winds up hanging by the cable. Lincoln is also shot in the back by these darts.
A man has his hand “stapled” to a door with nails from a nail gun. Various characters are bludgeoned with pipes, chains, wrenches and crowbars, and two are pistol-whipped. A large truck broadsides a police car at full speed, pulverizing the car. A freeway chase scene involves Lincoln pushing train wheels off the back of a speeding semi—cars smash into walls and other obstacles, go airborne and are split open.
Gunmen fire on Lincoln and Jordan from helicopters and futuristic flying motorcycles. Lincoln knocks one rider off his cycle with a chain (the passenger then smashes into a road sign). Another motorcycle plunges into a passing train. A helicopter is hit by a falling sign and bursts into flames before crashing to the ground. Bounty hunters and police engage in a fierce shootout on a city street.
During a fight, Lincoln bites a man’s hand, elbows him in the face and smashes his face into a car’s dashboard. Lincoln and Jordan survive a harrowing fall from a tall building. And they engage in a virtual kickboxing match (the computer Lincoln spits out teeth after one fierce blow). Early on, Lincoln has a creepy nightmare about drowning, and we see him struggling beneath the water and gasping for air as men drag him under.
A woman convulses and dies after a drug is injected into her intravenous tube. Merrick jams a hypodermic syringe into a man’s neck, killing him. A robotic surgeon begins to cut open a man’s chest with a bone saw; we hear the sound of bone being cut and see blood. In a scene reminiscent of the Nazi gas chambers, people are unwittingly led into a room to be executed.
One f-word and one use of the euphemism “frikking.” Four uses of the s-word. “A–“ and “h—“ pop up a handful of times. The British slang “w-nker” is used once, and God’s name is misused about five times.
McCord and Lincoln share a flask of what is presumably booze. A scene is set in a bar, with patrons drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages. Jordan has several shot glasses set in front of her before she’s pulled away. McCord sends his girlfriend out for beer, and a man drinks beer from a futuristic metal bottle.
Small robotic bugs, used by a doctor to examine Lincoln’s brain, enter his head through an eye socket. Lincoln is shown urinating (twice), with explicit sound. McCord is said to be “in the can taking a dump.”
A cross between ‘70s sci-fi thrillers Logan’s Run and Coma, The Island had the potential to be a great think piece that posed serious philosophical questions about medical ethics and what it means to be human. So who thought to ask Michael Bay, he of the exploding everything, to direct this movie? The result is a mishmash of serious storytelling and Hollywood excess.
For example, one character raises all the slippery arguments for various forms of human medical experimentation and the allegedly pragmatic grounds for ending human life. (Unfortunately, his arguments don’t get the serious refutation they deserve, although it’s clear he’s a bad guy.) Next thing you know, however, black helicopters are spewing hot lead at our heroes as they flee at high speed on a freeway. Cue fireballs, crashing cars, et cetera, ad nauseam, and where are the cliché police when you need them anyway?
The film thus quickly falls into terminal silliness. The stunts are so extreme and over-the-top you just can’t suspend disbelief for long enough chunks of time to enjoy them. Granted, it’s more serious than your typical Bay movie, but that does little more than call unwarranted attention to the story’s inadequacies. So with no compelling reason to dwell on the main text or the subtext, pretty much all you’re left with is lots and lots of chase scenes and explosions, a few fistfights and smatterings of vulgarity.