Attack of the Clones
[spoiler, unless you’ve seen the TV ads and trailers and know absolutely nothing whatsoever about the film]
Welcome to THX 11-
Actually, it’s more like a grand tour through a galaxy of science fiction movies: Look, there’s Coma! Hey, it’s The Truman Show! Ooo, The Matrix! Wow: Logan’s Run! Cool, look, GATTACA! If Michael Bay’s movies are theme-
I almost thought, in that first hour, that I was gonna have to suck it up and admit that Bay may have actually been trying something new… new for him, that is. Sure, it’s all terribly derivative, and it all looks like an Armani ad, but that’s just his way, the adorably fetishistic director, but hey, if you’re gonna fetishize anything, if you’re gonna make love to your subject matter, it might as well be Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson instead of offshore oil rigs exploding into mushroom clouds or 18-wheelers flying through the air to crash almightily on the freeway or whatever. (Frankly, Sean Bean could have done with some fetishizing here, too, but he is the villain after all, and I suppose that cars bursting into flame are morality neutral and hence appropriate for fetishizing while it would simply be wrong to visually worship bad guys. Except… it’s Sean Bean!)
I almost thought, Could Bay (Bad Boys II, Pearl Harbor) actually be pulling off one of those paranoid pseudo SF flicks about how there’s more going on in the world than you know, but oh boy do you suspect? The self-
The answer, in a word, is No. He’s got the What If? part down at least as well as one of those crappy Sci Fi Channel Originals, but it turns out that the answer to the What If? — in this case, What If people could grow clones of themselves as organ farms or baby machines, and keep the childlike clones hidden away from the rest of the world in a pretend city? — is the answer to all of Michael Bay’s What Ifs: Stuff explodes, beautifully.
So it turns out that it doesn’t matter that all the promo material on the film — TV ads, trailers, everything — reveals the story’s twist — Lincoln and Jordan and all their fellow citizens aren’t survivors of a global disaster but rich people’s insurance policies — because all that happens after the secret is revealed is that Bay can finally get down to doing what he loves to do: Stomp and crash and burn and destroy as Lincoln and Jordan escape into the real world — just 20 minutes into our future — and must be recaptured. (You can practically feel Bay heave a big sigh of relief at the halfway point, like this is what he’s been killing time to get to all along.)
For an action movie, The Island really is like a supermodel convention, as Handsome Dr. Evil (Bean: National Treasure, Troy) hires Beautiful Mercenary (Djimon Hounsou: Beauty Shop, Constantine) to retrieve Gorgeous Rebel (McGregor) and Even More Gorgeous Tagalong Movie Girl With Nothing To Do But Look Fabulous (Johansson). It’s to distract you, perhaps, from the litany of howlingly funny absurdities that start piling up in the film’s second half, each of which on its own should have stopped the plot in its tracks and when, taken together, constitute a Three Stooges routine of cascading damage to cinematic integrity (not that this is something that concerns Bay). I’m talkin’, everything from a minor plot point requiring a famous celebrity to have a listed phone number to the huge transgression of allowing a route of escape to remain in plain view in a heavily trafficked area for hours and hours, in a place where security is intense.
But it might all be worth it for the car-
And if the flick’s not worth it for that, it’s certainly worth it for the scene in which Ewan McGregor wrestles Ewan McGregor as Lincoln confronts his progenitor. There’s something totally hot about that.