This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jason’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Slowly making my way through Scorsese's films, Shutter Island was always one that interested me but I kept putting it off because I was sure I'd worked out the twist.
This is not me saying "Look how smart I am for working out the twist before I ever saw the film". I am instead saying that when you read the plot synopsis for the film, the character investigating the mental asylum being a patient of said asylum is pretty likely.
And this is where I have a bit of a dilemma when it comes to rating the film. I knew the twist going in, so therefore I was viewing the film in a different manner than it is meant to be viewed. As a first time viewer I had a vastly different experience watching the film than someone with no idea about the twist. That said, I really don't think the twist is all that mind blowing or surprising. The film doesn't work not because the whole movie is constructed around the ending, but rather because the ending is not all that surprising or even interesting. I feel like the twist ending is one of the least interesting ways for this film to end and there were multiple other paths to head down that could've ended in a far better third act.
Take Fincher's The Game for example. Similar in a lot of ways from a story stand point. Big twist ending where it turns out everything we'd seen was all a "game", story told through a lot of flashbacks, main character's partner being part of the "game" all along. So there's a lot of similarities. But where The Game works and Shutter Island doesn't is that you never see the ending coming. It isn't obvious. Maybe the title is a hint, but that too is only a reference to the actual game, which Michael Douglas' character knows he's in. The ending is completely out of left field while at the same time feeling very natural as an endpoint to the story.
Still an interesting movie and most of the film is very well shot, acted, and written, but the third act kills it, being the massive exposition dump that it is.