And for the most part, Shutter Island was good. Scorsese does a great job building suspense throughout the entire film. He gives his characters understandable motivation, and evokes believable performances from his actors. But even with all of this, something is missing.
DiCaprio plays Teddy Daniels, a detective who goes to Shutter Island, home to a mental hospital for the criminally insane, to investigate a missing persons report. Mark Ruffalo accompanies him as his newly assigned partner. During the investigation, things start getting bizarre for Daniels. He begins to have weird visions/dreams of events that occurred in his past, and these visions begin to take their toll on him physically.
Scorsese makes Daniels an interesting character. As a World War II vet, Daniels has seen some of the most horrifying events. Couple that with the violent death of his wife, and he becomes a tortured man. However, he has a mission that he intends to fulfill at any cost. DiCaprio gives Daniels that touch of human he needs in order to be believable and not just another theatrical caricature.
Shutter Island wasn’t written for a director like Scorsese. Scorsese has managed to make brilliant films from even the most boring premises (has anyone else seen Kundun?) but he lacks something in Shutter Island. Toward the middle of the film, you begin to wonder if it’s Scorsese behind the lens, and by the end of the film, you’re convinced it was actually M. Night Shaymalan. Unfortunately, this is what Shutter Island feels like. The movie thinks it comes to a respectable conclusion, but it doesn’t. Its finale answers questions, but then forces the audience to questions some things that made sense earlier.
While I can’t say that Shutter Island was bad, because I did enjoy the build up and the suspense, I can’t say that it was good, either. It was meant to be the kind of film that makes you say ‘whoa,’ but sadly, it’s a film that makes you say ‘wha…?’