Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio team up once again with Shutter Island, a psychological thriller that’s big on budget but lacking in originality.
I guess it all depends on how many of these types of films you’ve seen. I spent many, many years watching nothing but thrillers, so filmmakers working within that genre have to work pretty hard to surprise me. All the signposts are here, and the music (supervised by Robbie Robertson) sets the scene for the fairly overstated narrative that follows. Federal Marshalls Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) have been called to the isolated and foreboding Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of one the island’s ‘patients’. The island itself is a high security prison for the criminally insane, complete with hulking ancient buildings that loom before the central characters as they first arrive. As Teddy searches for answers he learns of a far-reaching conspiracy, with the island at the epicentre.
It’s all very well made. Shutter Island clearly had buckets of money thrown at it (a little too much for its own good, say I) and it does lovingly recreate post-Second World War America. DiCaprio is good though never achieves the same greatness he displayed in The Departed, though one might blame the film itself, which sits so comfortably within the genre that the viewer is never really challenged. A strong supporting cast surrounds him but no one really stands out.
The special effects are good and I actually warmed to the fairly inconsistent score later on (one particular dream was brilliant – nothing but a persistent percussive noise resounding throughout the otherwise silent scene). Shutter Island doesn’t really pack any scares, though at least this means we’re not subjected to any cheap thrills with loud, inexplicable noises, as is often the case in lazy thriller and/or horror films.
Unfortunately, Shutter Island’s more than a little predictable, though I’ve always maintained that the viewer will only predict the outcome of a film if they’re not emotionally involved. Secret Window is a perfect example – I was completely caught by surprise by that Stephen King adaptation whilst all my friends thought it was one of the most predictable movies to come out that year. My attachment to that film was helped by Johnny Depp’s fantastic performance. With Shutter Island I have nothing but DiCaprio in sweaty, desperate mode and the narrative trappings of the genre here get in the way of strong character development. As with Kiefer Sutherland’s character in Mirrors, Teddy starts out at the end of his tether so there’s nowhere for him to go.
Shutter Island is amiable enough yet fails to stack up against the best examples of the genre.Rating: