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Review: The Island





Michael Jai White is back and looking for vengeance for his murdered brother in the new action thriller The Island, out this Friday in theaters, VOD, and digital.

White stars as Mark, an LAPD detective who returns home to the island he grew up on after his brother turns up dead.  Realizing something doesn’t add up, Mark starts to investigate and quickly realizes that Manuel Alvarez (Edoardo Costa) is most likely the man behind the murder but he’s also the powerful tycoon who basically rules the island.  Reuniting with some old allies, including his ex-wife Akilah (Gillian White), Mark looks to take down Alvarez to get justice for his brother and free the island from his corrupting influence.  Plot-wise, The Island doesn’t do anything you haven’t seen before and it feels very similar to movies like Walking Tall.  Things progress pretty much how you would expect if you’re an action aficionado and there aren’t too many surprises.  There are a few zigs where another movie might zag, like having a character who you might think is corrupt and working for Alvarez actually turn out to be a solid guy or the fate of the key witness who saw Alvarez murder Mark’s brother.  Things move along at a decent clip and it’s not bad but don’t go in expecting a lot of originality or uniqueness.

Michael Jai White is great as always, bringing his trademark swagger and martial arts prowess to the role.  There is a strange quirk where Mark has an island accent that comes and goes that feels a bit odd but, other than that, it’s your usual badass performance.  One big stand out is Edoardo Costa as Alvarez, who is deliciously evil in every scene and usually ends up killing whoever he’s sharing a scene with in some vicious fashion along with delivering the typical villainous dialogue.  He brings a ton of great energy and he does a fantastic job of making Alvarez hatable so the inevitable conclusion to his and Mark’s conflict is suitably satisfying.  Gillian White is also great as Akilah, able to keep up action-wise with her real-life husband Michael Jai White and, since they are married in real life, they obviously have a natural and excellent chemistry in the slower scenes between the action.  Jackson Rathbone adds some fun comedic energy to the movie but he’s unfortunately only in the beginning and end of the movie, leaving most of the movie lacking the buddy cop banter they establish early on.

Action-wise, The Island is solid but nothing truly stands out.  Michael Jai White gets a few good fights, including a fight in a beach bar where he gets to do some of his trademark and excellent kicks but there’s a lot of gunplay that feels a bit sloppy, especially compared to other recent action movies.  The Island is definitely strongest when things are hand to hand and it probably could have cut back on some of the shootouts to feature more of White and his martial arts skills.

The Island is a solid action movie but don’t go in expecting to see something you haven’t seen before.  If you enjoyed movies like Walking Tall, The Island has a similar vibe with a great as usual Michael Jai White and an excellent villain in Edoardo Costa.

The Island is out 7/21/23 in theaters, VOD, and Digital

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