Wednesday, August 31, 2005


McGregor’s Syndrome

Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Scarlet Johansson, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi

Tagline: They don’t want you to know what you are

What if you were not you, but a clone of you, used for organs, but you didn’t know? Would you still be you? What would you do if you found out? What if Michael Bay made a dazzling and intelligent comment on society? Ok, fuck that last one. With The Island, Bay has crafted a dystopia as expensive-looking as it is patronizing in its right-wing agenda. In this vision of America’s nearing future, Europeans are evil, black people are very slow indeed and stem cell research is not only wrong, but a charade for a cult of anti-creationist murderers operating against the wishes of the American government. Loss of personal freedom is made as alien a concept as possible; those enslaved are godless, wear white and are surrounded by unfamiliar objects.
Coincidentally, acting talent rarely surpasses that of the average iRobot. Ewan McGregor is especially inept as Lincoln Six-Echo (he frees the slaves, don’t you know), and his real-life counterpart Tom Lincoln (his Scottish accent allows McGregor to display the two sides of his talent, ach!). With Scarlet Johansson as a comparably childish escape partner, the two are free to engage in distressingly poor attempts at fish-out-of-water humour and tediously impossible peril, such as falling about a kilometer, chased by hundreds of tonnes of steel and landing safely in some netting before being told that Jesus must really love them by a bystander.
Were this film marketed at fans of The Passion Of The Christ, Bay might have had the hit of the year on his hands. Instead, it has become a commercial failure at the hands of a film about (non-CGI) penguins, and thus become this year’s Paycheck. In America’s nearing future, using pretty cinematography, big names and saturation marketing to dress up boring Republican allegories with gargantuan plotholes might just become an increasingly difficult practice.


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