Sunday, October 11, 2009


Year: 2009
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Cast: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames

My last review was Gamer, a film where people can control other people. Now in Surrogates, it's an almost similar plot, where people control robot versions of themselves.

Surrogates takes place in the near future, where technology has become advanced, and android versions of people can be made and controlled by their owners. Humans no longer have to leave their homes, they can simply plug their minds into a computer and control their robotic selves, made to look like alternative or better versions of their true image, and venture out into the world, and still be able to feel everything the same way they would normally. Best of all, these surrogates are very sturdy and safe to use, or so they thought.

One day, two surrogates are found destroyed, and their owners dead, their brains liquified in the process. FBI agents Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell) investigate, and learn that a special weapon was used by a person not using a surrogate to do it. Their investigation leads them to the Dreads, a group of humans who abhor the use of surrogates and live in their own territory, away from everyone else. Greer then learns that the creator of the surrogates, Dr Canter (James Cromwell) may have been involved somehow, since one of the victims was his own son. All this leads to a war that could decide the fate of surrogacy.

Jonathan Mostow, director of the ingenious suspense thriller Breakdown, as well as the underappreciated Terminator sequel, takes the helm for Surrogates. He succeeds in creating a futuristic world where everyone has become dependent on a machine to carry out their day to day activities. In this film, you'll see all kinds of alternate versions of people, some very lifelike, some not so animated, some way too perfect looking and some weird ones too. Greer himself has a surrogate, which looks like a de-aged version of Willis; younger, wearing a wig and sporting a super smooth face. Kudos to the CGI team for making all the surrogates look very convincing.

Willis once again uses his great screen presence to ground the film and give it the right emotional core, and at the same time be the action hero. Rosamund Pike, who plays his wife, finally found a role that was tailor made for her singular facial expression. But at least this time, there are a couple of moments where she has the chance to unplug and emote, and we get to see her all messed up, which is a nice change. Cromwell and Rhames, who plays The Prophet, leader of the Dreads, are wasted here though.

One of the drawbacks of Surrogates, is the ending. It's too perfect, and predictable. In a film like this, you'd hope to see more arguments about the influence of technology on our lives, and we get some of it, in a form of a subplot involving Greer's damaged relationship with his wife, who is plugged 24/7. But a little more time spent on this would help give this film a bit more weight. In the end, it's just another action sci-fi that just falls short of other similar themed films like I, Robot and Minority Report.

A nice way to spend 88 minutes, but don't expect brain food. (3.5/5)

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