I've been pretty hyped for this movie for a while, mostly from a mystery/thriller standpoint more than a Scorsese standpoint (I'm by no means a Scorsese aficionado or anything). Now I'm just wondering if I went in with my expectations a bit too high. Shutter Island tells the story of U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his newly appointed partner, Chuck (Mark Ruffalo). They are sent to Shutter Island because it houses an asylum for the criminally insane, and one of its patience has just escaped. But everything isn't what it seems. The doctors, nurses, and orderlies, and security--including Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley), Dr. Naehring (Max Von Sydow), and Deputy Warden McPherson (John Carroll Lynch)--seem to be in on some kind of conspiracy, and it's up to Teddy to figure out what it is, to "blow the lid off this thing." The movie also stars the likes of Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine, and Elias Koteas.
Even after I was already interested in the movie, I was told it had this epic twist to end all twists--one of the best twists in modern literature (since it's based on a book). Well, I wonder if the book is any different, because I was able to figure out the basic twist within the first 3 minutes of the movie. But just the basic part of it. All the other details, I was never able to figure out until they were revealed at the end. Interestingly enough, whenever there were clues to the ending, it felt like a giant flashing sign saying "look at me, I'm a clue!" But while I was easily able to discern the clues that would inevitably add up to the twist, I wasn't able to put them together and make sense of it before it was revealed. Of course, it all made sense afterward, but still. Oh, and they never explain the "rule of 4" thing, unless I just missed it. Because they find this letter that mentions the 'rule of 4' and 'who is 67'? They explain the latter, but never the former...
The acting, for the most part, was good. But there were times when I was like "OK, Leo, right now I'm just seeing Leo trying to play a cop." They weren't frequent, but they were there. And I worried about the movie at the beginning, wondering what I was getting myself into for 2+ hours, as it really wasn't very gripping, and it seemed to be exposition central.
But the movie does pick up after a while. What helps the movie the most are its visuals. Scorsese does good things to set the mood--the rain, the smoke, the shadows--and he runs with it. There's good cinematography here to really help with the atmosphere, not to mention some really great shots in general.
I also noticed, primarily towards the end, how much symbolism there was in the movie. There were a lot of fire and water motifs, as well as smoke. And the storm/rain acted as a great symbol to the chaos of the situation, as well as to the self-destruction of mankind.
I really don't know what else to say. It was really good, but not "OMG I need new pants" great. Maybe I had hyped myself up too much for it or something. I might not buy it when it comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray, but I'd definitely watch it again if I saw it on TV. Because, while it was good and the mystery engaging, I can't see myself sitting down wanting to watch it over and over again. Definitely see it in the theater, though. Just hope you don't get an audience like mine where a woman laughed at all the parts that were supposed to be disturbing and/or unsettling (or, with... like... the one jump-scare in the movie, calls out to the entire theater 'Oh, that scared me!'). So... yeah.
A Keanu 'Whoa'
(P.S. Though I have to admit, the last line in the movie is excellent.)