Martin Scorsese is undoubtedly one of the greatest living directors, his back catalogue of directorial efforts contains some of the most impressive and memorable films of the last forty years. Unfortunately this reputation means that, for Scorsese, any new release brings with it almost unattainable expectations, which is perhaps why Shutter Island is so disappointing. For most other directors Shutter Island would have been a fine film, albeit not a great one. For Scorsese, Shutter Island can simply not compare to such films as Taxi Driver or even The Age of Innocence; feeling heavy-handed, although undoubtedly entertaining.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Teddy Daniels, a US Federal Marshall, who along with his new partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) is sent to Shutter Island to investigate the escape of a Rachel Solando from the island’s mental institution for the criminally insane. Solando is considered extremely dangerous, having murdered her three children. Unable to come to terms with her crime, she has thus constructed a fantasy in which she believes that the hospital she is living in is her home and that her children are still alive. As Daniels investigates Rachel’s disappearance he begins to uncover a conspiracy upon the island, and it is this search for answers that takes up the most of the film’s duration.
Unfortunately the inevitable twist-ending is fairly obvious at the film’s half-way point and as such the ending itself disappoints. When investing such an amount of time in viewing the film (the film runs for over two hours), for the ending to be entirely uninspired and completely expected, the viewer can only be left feeling cheated.
DiCaprio, in is his fourth collaboration with Scorsese, is as ever entirely flawless; quickly developing into one of the finest actors of his generation, but even DiCaprio’s performance, as well as the performances of the supporting cast, is not enough to make Shutter Island anything more than an average thriller.
Shutter Island is certainly enjoyable for its duration and is paced well ensuring that interest is maintained, but for Scorsese, Shutter Island is lacking in inspiration. Worth a watch, it is unlikely there will be any desire to engage in any repeat viewings of the film, largely because the plot itself is so uncomplicated there are no further questions by the time the credits roll.