'Shutter Island': Scorcese's greatest flop?

Martin Scorcese's "formulaic" new thriller has critics asking if the aging genius has lost his mojo

Will "Shutter Island" bomb?
(Image credit: Paramount)

Acclaimed director Martin Scorcese is losing his moviemaking mojo — or so say critics who are harshly dismissing his new thriller, "Shutter Island." Perhaps tellingly, Paramount pushed back the release date for the Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle — based on Dennis Lehane's novel about an unfathomable island insane asylum — from its original high-profile, end-of-2009 slot. Is "Shutter Island" the beginning of the end for the 67-year-old director, or are critics holding him to an unfairly high standard? (Watch Scorcese on his reasons for making "Shutter Island")

Scorcese's getting worse, not better: "Some great directors, as they age, strive to simplify and refine their technique in the hope of getting closer to their subjects," says David Edelstein in New York magazine. But Martin Scorsese went a different direction. Rather than connecting the audience "emotionally" with the story's narrative — as he did with "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull" — Scorcese instead created a film that's too long and "suffocatingly movieish." Apparently, "Scorsese can’t get past the thicket of old movies."

"Intimate malice"

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Comparing the glossy "Shutter Island" to "Taxi Driver" is unjust: Scorcese's new film isn't bad, says Ben Barna in Black Book, unless you're intent on comparing it to Scorcese's classic '70s dramas, which are completely different films. Scorsese may have given "Shutter Island" a Hitchcockian gloss — but remember, "even geniuses get to have a little fun sometimes."

"'Shutter Island' and the trouble with being Martin Scorsese"

"Shutter Island" is formulaic — in all the right ways: The film is reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining," says Todd McCarthy in Variety, in the sense that Scorcese has transformed "old-dark-madhouse claptrap" source material with "expert, screw-turning narrative filmmaking." Though the director ventures into unfamiliar "bestseller territory that obliges him to deliver certain expected ingredients for the mass audience," it works extremely well.

"Shutter Island"

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