Us critics, we don't hate Michael Bay. Well, not all of us, and not all the time. I wasn't a fan of his Transformers, nor Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and I haven't watched The Rock or Armageddon in their entirety in years, but I distinctly enjoyed 2005's The Island during its ill-fated theatrical run (gross: $35 million, cost: between three and four times that), and I still do as a decent sci-fi/action matinee outing.

But how?, I've been asked. It does after all bear every other trademark of a Michael Bay outing: explosions, rampant product placement, blatant racial stereotypes, explosions, perpetual dusk lighting, explosions, and a female lead constantly flattered by her wardrobe (yeah, a real woe-is-us scenario).


Maybe it's because I found Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson to be more winning protagonists as clones on the run than I ever did Will Smith and Martin Lawrence or Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox. Maybe it's because the action -- as demonstrated below in the film's centerpiece, a foot chase/car chase/air chase -- is a competent, coherent blend of practical stunts and CGI, not the blur of metal on metal that Transformers is inherently bringing to the table or the desperate excess of Bad Boys II (wanton destruction and collateral damage is one thing; tossing corpses into traffic is something else). Maybe it's because the humor skews more to brief quips -- "Good job" and "Tough day" -- than anything involving humping or urination, and the depiction of African-Americans is limited to one individual immediately praisin' Jesus! rather than speaking jive and flaunting a gold tooth.

But hey, it wouldn't be a Michael Bay movie without latent racism now, would it?