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Film raises cloning ethics question

New York, July 21 (Reuters): Armageddon director Michael Bay likes big bangs, fast chases and fancy gadgets but his latest movie The Island takes a new turn, addressing the pressing political issue of cloning and the ethics of science.

Actors Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson play two clones who escape from a secret institution in the near future.

“I want people when they walk out of this movie to think ‘If I could, would I want a clone'’ ” Bay said while promoting the film in New York.

“We all want to live longer but how far would you go' Would you be selfish enough to take someone’s life to live longer'”

The movie starts with a view of Lincoln Six-Echo, played by McGregor, who lives with hundreds of other people in an apparently Utopian facility where everybody wears white and has their every move monitored and controlled.

The residents live in hope of winning the lottery which will allow them to go to “the Island,” reportedly the last place on the planet uncontaminated by environmental disaster.

Conversations with a technician played by Steve Buscemi awaken Lincoln’s curiosity. He then discovers that his real purpose is to provide spare parts for rich and famous humans who have paid $5 million to be cloned.

He and Johansson’s character escape with a band of mercenaries in hot pursuit, at which point Bay gets to go to town on big action stunts and flashy chase scenes.

Bay brushes off questions about the politics of his film, insisting he sees it as a “popcorn” movie aimed at entertaining the heartland of America rather than a contribution to serious debate about genetics or stem cell research.

“I’ve met several stem cell researchers; it’s amazing how they feel they can cure so many diseases,” Bay said. “This (film) is just taking cloning in a science fiction way to the nth degree. It’s just to open discussion,” he said.

British actor Sean Bean’s character provides the most complex insights on the issue. He plays the director of the institute who pioneers the technology for birthing adult human clones, or “products” in the terminology of the movie.

“He’s standing up for science; it’s a clash between humanity and science,” said Bean, who played Boromir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

“That’s what drives him. As far as he’s concerned he’s saving lives.”

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