The Island is a 2005 science fiction film directed by Michael Bay and starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. It is described as a pastiche of "escape-from-dystopia" science fiction films produced in the late 1960s and 1970s such as Fahrenheit 451, THX 1138, Parts: The Clonus Horror, and Logan's Run. Set in 2019, the movie's plot revolves around the struggle of Ewan McGregor's character to fit into the highly structured world he lives in, and the action-packed series of events that unfolds when he questions exactly how truthful that world really is. The film, which cost $126 million to produce, earned only $36 million at the United States box office, but went on to gross $127 million overseas, for a $163 million worldwide total.
Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) is one of the colonists living in the utopia, but he experiences erratic dreams of a different lifestyle, as well as questioning some of the foundations of the community's existence, such as who cleans his clothes or why there are so many rules about food and other matters. Lincoln visits the colony's physician, Dr. Merrick (Sean Bean), in the Tranquility Center to talk about the dreams he has been having here. Dr. Merrick also does a synaptic scan. After the visit, Lincoln goes to his job working with the colony's subsistent technology, but he fakes a computer failure to visit his friend James McCord (Steve Buscemi), who works in one of the backrooms of the facility. While visiting, Lincoln sees and captures a flying insect with McCord's matchbox, wondering where it came from if the outside world was contaminated. Lincoln shares his find with his friend Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson), as well as his skepticism about the so-called contaminated outside world.
Jordan finds out that she has won the lottery to go to The Island. That night, Lincoln has another nightmare. He decides to get up and investigate where the flying insect came from. In the backroom, Lincoln climbs a ladder and finds a hidden medical floor. On the floor, he sees two so-called lottery winners: Lima One-Alpha (Siobhan Flynn), who gives birth to a baby and is murdered afterward, and then showing the baby being given to an identical looking woman (this part Lincoln doesn't see); and another, Starkweather Two-Delta (Michael Clarke Duncan), who wakes up during a surgery to harvest his organs and tries to fight his way out, but is captured back by the staff. Lincoln, realizing that there is no Island and that Jordan would suffer the same fate, races back home to retrieve her and escape from the colony with her. During their escape, they stumble upon the breeding ground for clones, an area in which their rapidly developing brains are programmed until they are mature enough to enter the general society.
Merrick, who looked over the security tapes from Starkweather's struggle, recognizes Lincoln's presence on the medical floor and orders his capture. Lincoln and Jordan escape to the outside world, which turns out not to be contaminated, and they find themselves in the desert near Yuma, Arizona. Lincoln locates McCord, who turns out not to be one of the colonists, in a bar using McCord's matchbox. McCord, shocked at the two colonists' presence, gives in and explains that the colonists were clones, whose purpose was to provide medical need for their sponsors, should anything happen to them; as far as the general public knows, the clones are simply kept in a vegetative state, but it was learned that they had to be revived and live actual lives or the organs didn't develop properly, with all the clones' memories of their lives pre-Contamination being nothing but memory engrams. McCord gives them clothes, some money, and a credit card to help them find their "sponsors" (the people of whom they were cloned), with Lincoln's sponsor being in Los Angeles and Jordan's sponsor being in New York.
A mercenary strike team led by Albert Laurent (Djimon Hounsou) is deployed by Dr. Merrick to find the fugitives. Lincoln and Jordan evade the mercenaries, though McCord is killed by one. The two colonists escape to Los Angeles, where they run into the mercenaries again in the search for their sponsors; Jordan calls her sponsor's home and has a disturbing moment when the video phone is answered by Sarah Jordan's son. Escaping once more, Lincoln and Jordan find Lincoln's sponsor, a Scottish playboy racer and car designer, Tom Lincoln – a moment of comedy ensues as the cloned Lincoln, who speaks with an American accent, is puzzled by Tom Lincoln's Scottish accent (Ewan McGregor's natural accent in real life). He reveals that he invested in Lincoln's existence because of Hepatitis from a sexually irresponsible life. Tom, having been misled like all sponsors to believe that his clone was kept in a persistent vegetative state by Dr. Merrick, pretends to agree to help the two plead their case before the media. However, he instead calls the cloning institute, informing the people that his clone was at his home, apparently not concerned that his clone is a conscious being. Jordan knows that he's lying because he has the same tell that Lincoln does and warns cloned Lincoln. Lincoln goes with his sponsor to a television station to expose the cloning company, but his sponsor instead leads him to Laurent and his fellow mercenaries. Lincoln, taking advantage of his similarity to his sponsor, confuses the mercenaries (especially after he clasps his identification wristband onto the real Tom Lincoln) and is able to escape, getting his sponsor killed in the process.
Lincoln returns to Jordan, waiting at the sponsor's home. At first, not being sure which Lincoln he is, she aims a gun at him. Lincoln assures her that it's him, the clone, and she realizes that it is him. After consummating for the first time- allowing instinct to take over despite the fact that they have no actual knowledge of sex themselves-, they both subsequently agree to rescue the rest of the cloned community from the facility.
Meanwhile, Dr. Merrick has discovered that all the third-generation clones have somehow inherited varying amounts of memories and even skills from their sponsors; before he left, Lincoln Six-Echo began to remember a yacht his sponsor had designed, simultaneously accounting for why he questioned the colony's existence despite his lack of experience. It's a fantastic discovery, but it endangers the facility's very existence - all these clones have memories of an outside world, and as such may attempt to escape at any time. Thus, Merrick decides to have the entire generation killed, plus three subsequent generations.
As Tom Lincoln's "clone" was killed by the mercenaries, Merrick has offered to grow him a new clone free of charge. Thus, Lincoln can walk right into the facility by posing as his sponsor. Jordan uses McCord's credit card, which is being monitored by the mercenaries, and allows herself to be captured - a less direct route, but still gets her inside. In the car on the way to the facility, Laurent noticed Jordan crying, and it was a factor which eventually made him to decide to help Jordan ; he saw Jordan crying, which shows that the clones have emotions, which was unlike what Merrick had earlier told him, that the clones had no emotions. When Jordan returns to the facility, she is taken to an operating room to have her organs harvested (Jordan originally won the lottery to go to "The Island" because her sponsor, model Sarah Jordan, had been in a car accident, but so much time has passed since the accident that Sarah will almost certainly die even if she receives new organs). She pulls out a hidden gun to take advantage of the situation and escapes to meet up with Lincoln. After confirming that both made it in, they separate once more - Jordan will attempt to warn the colonists of their fate while Lincoln disables the holographic projectors that gave them the illusion of a contaminated outside world.
Laurent runs into Jordan, but has a stroke of luck. Laurent grew up in Africa, and lost his parents in the Burkinabe genocide, subsequently being branded on his palm with a brand that marks him, like the clones, as "less than human". He thus decides to aid her in rescuing a group of clones who are about to be incinerated as part of Merrick's plan.
Meanwhile, Lincoln has arrived at the holographic projectors in attempt to sabotage them. Dr. Merrick catches Lincoln in the act and tries to kill him. They fight through a walkway between two cooling towers and Lincoln knocks Merrick to the floor. As he does so, he tries to make an attempt to run, but Merrick grapples him. Lincoln manages to kill Merrick, and the facility begins to collapse, but not before Lincoln, Jordan, all the remaining clones, and Laurent escape. As Laurent leaves Lincoln and Jordan to get on with their lives, all the colonists, now seeing the world as it really is for the first time, are just as amazed as Lincoln and Jordan were. The movie ends with both of them on the boat that Tom Lincoln designed and Lincoln had dreamed of, the Renovatio, sailing to a tropical island – a real one.
|Ewan McGregor||Lincoln Six Echo||Protagonist; clone of Tom Lincoln|
|Tom Lincoln||Car/motorcycle/boat experimental designer from Scotland, currently living in L.A.; initially sponsored his clone due to his being a sufferer of cirrhotic hepatitis|
|Scarlett Johansson||Jordan Two Delta||Protagonist; clone of Sarah Jordan|
|Sarah Jordan||Actress and model from New York; initially sponsored her clone to keep her in fresh looking skin, but currently dying as a result of a car accident|
|Djimon Hounsou||Albert Laurent||Bounty hunter hired by Merrick to bring back Lincoln Six Echo and Jordan Two Delta|
|Sean Bean||Dr. Merrick||Antagonist, owner of Merrick Biotech and creator of the various clones|
|Steve Buscemi||James McCord||Employee of Merrick Biotech; helps Lincoln Six Echo and Jordan Two Delta after they escape|
|Michael Clarke Duncan||Starkweather Two Delta||Cloned after a football player for at least his liver, and judging from The Island's official website, probably his heart as well (Jamil Starkweather is noted to have multiple early warning signs of impending cardiac problems)|
|Jamil Starkweather||New York Giants football player; aka "The Juggernaut"|
|Ethan Phillips||Jones Three Echo||Clone; works with Lincoln Six Echo|
|Brian Stepanek||Gandu Three Echo||Clone; works with Lincoln Six Echo|
|Noa Tishby||Community Announcer||Makes community announcements including the lottery|
|Siobhan Flynn||Lima One Alpha||Cloned to carry a baby to term|
|Kim Coates||Charles Whitman||Director of Public Relations for Merrick Biotech|
|Tom Everett||President of the United States; clone|
|J.P. Manoux||Foxtrot; new guy picked on by Gandu 3 Echo|
Michael Marshall Smith's 1996 novel, Spares, in which the hero liberates intelligent clones from a "spare farm", whose clients are told they are not conscious, was optioned by DreamWorks in the late 1990s but was never made. It remains unclear if the story inspired The Island, and so Marshall Smith did not consider it worthwhile to pursue legal action over the similarities. Paramount (now sister studio to DreamWorks after its parent Viacom purchased DreamWorks in late 2005) was in talks to option the novel after DreamWorks' rights expired, but declined after The Island was released. Marshall Smith considers it unlikely a Spares film will ever be made.
A second film version of Logan's Run was also in the works when The Island was released. It is possible due to the similarity of both plot and story, that the release and domestic box-office reception of The Island caused the production of Logan's Run to be abandoned in favor of the 2008 film Speed Racer. Though the similarities between the two films are striking, the author of Logan's Run has not so far commented on The Island's concept.
Reviewers have also objected to the prominent product placement within the film. Cisco Systems, MSN Search, Xbox, Puma, Reebok, Miller Light, NBC, NFL, Budweiser, Apple, Aquafina, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Mack, Coca-Cola, Speedo, TAG Heuer, Amtrak, Ben & Jerry's, and Nokia are some of the sponsors of the film. In an Entertainment Weekly cover story, Bay stated that the extensive product placement was the result of trying to offset production costs - "Bay called on friends at major corporations—outfits like Budweiser, General Motors, and Microsoft—and offered overt product placement in exchange for cash. 'We made about $850,000 on that,' he says. 'And we needed that money to get this movie made.'
Another symbolic characteristic of the film is the connection drawn between segregation and slavery, and abortion and embryonic stem-cell research. While talking of his past, Albert Laurent reveals that he was a former slave and understands what it is like to be "less than human". The statement was mentioned as Merrick mentions his ideas on how the clones, such as Jordan-Two Delta are nothing more than a commodity. This presents an analogy to the enslavement of Laurent and the killings of the clones for the personal benefits of their "owners". The film includes topics such as the ignorance of the values of human life, and how both freedom and life are often taken for granted by those who are already free and fully alive.