|Surrogates a mediocre effort
By Lady Liberty
web posted September 28, 2009
** out of *****
Runtime: 88 minutes
Science fiction? Bruce Willis? Count me in! Unfortunately, now that I've actually seen Surrogates, neither the genre nor the star was enough to make Surrogates better than mediocre.
In the near future, surrogates—androids—have changed the world. People can look however they want and experience anything they like without effort or danger by connecting their consciousness to a surrogate. The vast majority of people never leave home. They rely on their surrogates for everything from their job to their leisure pursuits. Crime is down, and when accidents do occur, only the surrogates are damaged. Humanity has it pretty good! The only people who have it better are those who own the company that manufactures the lifelike robots.
Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) is a cop. His surrogate is a younger version of himself. Along with his partner, Peters (Radha Mitchell), Greer is called to what both believe is a fairly typical case of a couple of surrogates having been attacked and severely damaged outside a local nightclub. But when the pair trace the surrogates back to their controllers, they discover the humans behind them are just as dead. Up until that very moment, such a thing was thought to be impossible. Due to the likelihood of such news causing a panic, Greer's boss (Boris Kodjoe) warns everyone to keep the facts out of the news as they press their investigation.
In short order, Greer and Peters find themselves interviewing everyone from the inventor of surrogates (James Cromwell) to The Prophet (Ving Rhames), a human who is outspoken in his opposition to the use of surrogates. As more and more details finally begin to emerge, Greer finds that he himself is in very real danger. But he hasn't left his apartment in years. Can he not only solve the crime, but do it without the help of his far less vulnerable surrogate?
I realize that the premise, while not unique, sounds interesting. I'm betting that it could have been, too! But it would have needed a much better script for that to happen. The direction and the acting were also on a par with the script. None of them were really bad, but none were all that great, either. I will say that criticism of Bruce Willis and his age are unwarranted. I suppose it's fair to say that he shouldn't be doing traditional action movies at his age, but Surrogates foisted the real action onto a surrogate. When Willis hit the streets actually looking his age, he suffered accordingly. And for the record, he frankly still looks very, very hot in torn clothes, blood, and bruises.
The special effects were okay, though it appeared that more was done with quick edits than with CGI. I particularly appreciated the make-up effects which provided a subtle but obvious difference between real people and the surrogates many of them controlled.
BOTTOM LINE: Surrogates should have been exciting. It should have been interesting. It wasn't. While it's not a terrible movie, it was...flat. I forgot about it before the credits were done rolling.
FAMILY SUITABILITY: Surrogates is rated PG-13 for "intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, language, sexuality and a drug-related scene." You can trust me when I tell you that even your younger kids have seen worse in video games. While I can't suggest you bring kids younger than 12 or so to the theatre for this one, that's based on the fact younger children won't understand the premise.
POLITICAL NOTES: Although it's not emphasized in the movie, there were cameras virtually everywhere. People were tracked from the streets to hotels and literally into their rooms where they could also be monitored. When one character expressed shock over the power the police had, the man in charge of an entire cadre of robots who watched the footage on a continuous basis said, "It's okay. We're the good guys!" Uh, oh...
Lady Liberty, a senior writer for ESR, is a graphic designer and pro-freedom activist currently residing in the Midwest. More of her writings and other political and educational information is available on her web site, Lady Liberty's Constitution Clearing House, at http://www.ladylibrty.com. E-mail Lady Liberty at
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