Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) live in a compound with a strict set of rules. They are told that the world outside is too contaminated to support life except for an island. Every week there is a lottery, and someone is picked to live on the island.
Lincoln is having strange dreams. The scientist who runs the compound, Doctor Merrick (Sean Bean), puts probes in Lincoln’s body to monitor his brain. While exploring a forbidden power facility to visit his friend James McCord (Steve Buscemi), Lincoln discovers a live moth in a ventilation shaft, making him think that the outside world is not really deadly after all. Then he discovers that the lottery is really about organ harvesting, surrogate motherhood, and anything their wealthy sponsors want to do with clones.
When Doctor Merrick learns about Lincoln’s discoveries, Lincoln has to escape. He and Jordon emerge in the desert. Merrick hires Albert Laurent (Djimon Hounsou) to track them down. The escapees find McCord, who explains that all the clones are owned by the wealthy. He tells them the name of Lincoln’s sponsor, an automobile designer named Tom Lincoln (also Ewan McGregor) and they take the maglev train to Los Angeles to find him.
Meanwhile, in New York City, Jordon’s sponsor, supermodel Sarah Jordon (also Scarlett Johansson) is comatose from a car crash and needs Jordan for replacement parts. Lincoln meets his sponsor and discovers he has some of his memories. But because Tom needs a liver for his cirrhosis, he betrays the clones. There is a car-chase through LA which ends when Tom is killed by mistake and Lincoln gets to assume his sponsor’s identity. Lincoln and Jordan have sex.
Doctor Merrick fears that all future clones may access their sponsor’s memories, so he decides to eliminate the last four generations of clones. Posing as Tom, Lincoln goes to the compound to destroy the holographic projectors that hide the outer world. Jordon allows herself to be caught and Laurent decides to help. Lincoln kills Doctor Merrick, and the clones are freed. Lincoln and Jordan sail off for the island.
The film was directed and co-produced by Michael Bay and has all the action scenes you would expect. It was described as a mashup of other dystopian films like Fahrenheit 451, THX 1138, and Logan’s Run. It was scored by Bay’s go-to composer Steve Jablonsky. It was considered a box-office bomb because of a clumsy marketing campaign, but the fact is that the noisy action scenes overpowered the creepy, thoughtful plot. Michael Clark Duncan and Steve Buscemi were highly praised. The commercial by model Sarah Jordon was a real commercial starring Scarlett Johansson.
There is a scene in which an actor, not a stuntman, was almost hurt by being thrown through a window, and a cameraman was badly injured because he tripped while running. Ewan McGregor’s geeky comment after Scarlett Johansson kisses him was the real comment he made after his first kiss. Johansson wanted to go nude for the sex scene because the wardrobe she was given to hide her was so uncomfortable, but the film was PG13 and she had to wear it. A number of classic or otherwise strange cars are shown: a Bugatti Veyron, a Cadillac Cien 100th anniversary concept car, a Railton-Mobil Special racecar, the red Lexus from Minority Report, and a Chevy SSR pickup truck/convertible roadster.