Making the Grades
Realism and science fiction clash in a chilling portrayal of the life-prolonging advancements looming in the not too distant future.
Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johannson) are two of the lucky ones who believe they've survived a mass contamination of the planet. They now live in a contained mid-21st century facility where every aspect of their life, from intake to output, is monitored. Dressed in white tracksuits, their daily activities are a series of tests, work and carefully supervised recreation. Even their contact with members of the opposite sex is governed by "rules of proximity". Their ultimate hope is to be chosen to go to The Island, an idyllic, pristine destination where they will assist with repopulation efforts.
Still for Lincoln, life on his level of the complex is, if nothing else, rather pointless. Driven by an insatiable curiosity and haunted by nightmares, he develops an unsanctioned friendship with a worker (Steve Buscemi) in the boiler room. In the process, he discovers a life form that causes him to question his surroundings.
But his inquisitiveness soon leads him to the terrifying reality that his existence is not what it seems. In fact, he and the other inhabitants of the austere compound are really copies of wealthy investors, grown to provide spare parts should the need arise.
When Jordan is selected to go to the Island, Lincoln knows he must get her out in order to save her life. However, Merrick (Sean Bean), the institution's director, isn't about to let any of his goods escape. He has already broken countless eugenic laws by allowing the products of his program to become fully functioning and conscious beings rather than the vegetative agnates he promotes them as. Now, with so much money and research at stake, he can't afford to let his shareholders or his clients know about the real state of their investments.
Employing a squad of hired guns, Merrick sends Albert Laurent (Djimon Hounsou) to bring in the fugitives, regardless of the cost or the runaways' will to survive.
The concept of cloning may be disturbing to some viewers, especially when the replicas are depicted as living beings grown to adulthood in artificial wombs complete with mechanical umbilical cords. Scenes involving an attempt to cut a man's heart out and the killing of a mother just after childbirth, might also upset children and even teens.
These beings are also implanted with memories in order to make them as human-like as possible. The moral implications of these scientific innovations are set in an action packed thriller that leaves countless cars and bodies strewn in the streets. As well, clones who have served their purpose are disposed of without any regard.
Still these naive citizens use plenty of aggressive tactics to prolong their lives once they get out, including nailing a man's hand to the wall with a power tool. Added to the excessive violence, are moderate profanities, the use of an extreme expletive and depictions of the couple's discovery of sex. This content will likely leave many families looking for a more paradisiacal place to visit.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Island.
Advancements in science allow Merrick and his staff to grow clones. At what point does sensibility become more important than ability? What lengths should people be allowed to go to prolong their own lives? What disparities in health care are already evident between the wealthy and poor?
What kind of monitoring equipment is evident in the futuristic outside world? How common are many of those devices today? Do they provide necessary information to protect citizens or are they an intrusion into people’s private lives?