The last time director Martin Scorsese teamed up with Leonardo DiCaprio, it was for The Departed and they shot their way to an Oscar win for Best Picture. During the filming of Shutter Island they must've thought that was a chance to do it again and planned on releasing it in the fall so it would be eligible for Oscars. Then someone must've realized that that was never going to happen and had it come out in mid-February instead; the quagmire of awfulness in the movie season. I'm a HUGE fan of Scorsese, DiCaprio and especially when they work together. Leo has quickly become the new DeNiro, as far as how many movies they've done together. Shutter Island is a psychological thriller that's wound so tight it makes the 138 minute runtime seem like three days. I could begin to tell you what it's about but reading it would take you as long as it would to watch it. The good news is that it has an impressive cast like Mark Ruffalo (Zodiac), Ben Kingsley (Ghandi), Jackie Earl Haley (Watchmen) and Max Von Sydow (The Exorcist), who hasn't aged in 40 years. Everyone in the movie is great. In fact this might be one of the best performances that DiCaprio has given in his already boastful career. It's dark, complex, revealing and both brutal and sensitive at the same time. It was a loaded character for him to take on. Scorsese does an incredible job directing...of course, and reminds me of his work on Cape Fear. The production design, sets and location are so inspired that it could almost tell the story without saying a word. In fact one of the best parts of the movie is the musical score, which was composed by Robbie Robertson. The music is brooding and menacing and sets the tone for the film. It's just as scary as the island itself when you first see it. It truly is amazing. Sadly, the movie isn't. Shutter Island is too complex for its own good. The story has secrets, twists and turns; that should come as no surprise. I don't mind following a film down rabbit trails in plot twists, but Shutter Island has too many. By the time the ending comes with its big revelation, you're so confused by the last 45 minutes that you have no idea how to process the ending. As the film was building to its climax, I was so optimistic that the ending was gonna blow me away, a la The Usual Suspects or The Game. It doesn't though. The movie starts off like a powerful locomotive, chugging it's way down the track, building speed and looking damn good doing it; but somewhere along the way it runs out of steam, slows down and gets clunky. I wouldn't have minded that so much if the ending was epic, but it wasn't, so I did. I would imagine that Shutter Island watches much better a second time around. It was made like a classic Hitchcock thriller and was not meant to be enjoyed all at once on the first viewing. The problem is that I need to block off an entire day to find the time to watch the 2 and a half hour long movie to see and it just wasn't good enough to make me think it's worth it.
Shutter Island (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B