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- DVD: Surrogates
- Rating: Pg-13
- Starring: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames
- Written By: Michael Ferris
- Directed By: Jonathan Mostow
- Distributor: Touchstone Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: 2009
- Extras: Audio Commentary with Director Jonathan Mostow
- Series: Surrogates, The
Surrogates DVD Review
Concentration on action spoils an interesting plot
By Tim Janson
January 30, 2010
Bruce Willis having fun as a blond in SURROGATES(2009).
© Touchstone Home Entertainment
In the near-future, the creation of synthetic humans, referred to as surrogates, has virtually replaced the need for people to ever leaver their homes. The surrogates go to work, party, and even handle the shopping while people control them from the comfort of their homes, living in an isolated version of virtual reality. Surrogates takes a more serious approach to this theme than the recent “Gamer” which played it strictly for mindless action.
While there’s a practicality behind using surrogates…people remain home safe thus crime is all but eliminated…this is still largely a fantasy for the users. Thus most surrogates are the perfect idea of the user. They are young, beautiful, and in peak physical appearance. However not everyone is happy with the use of these machines. A radical, pro-human group stages protests against their use. These groups have been given their own restricted areas to live in, not unlike American Indian reservations where machines are not allowed. But someone has taken their loathing for the surrogates to the extreme, creating a weapon that not only can completely fry the surrogate, but also the brain of their human controller.
FBI Agents Greer (Willis) and Peters (Mitchell) are called in to investigate the murders. Now we’ve been used to seeing the aging Willis play rather grizzled characters in most of his recent roles but here, in the form of his surrogate, we get a Willis with a full head ob blond hair. You had to look twice to make sure that was really him. One of the murder victims was the son of Lionel Canter (James Cromwell) the man who invented the surrogates. Greet and Peters have to cut through a conspiracy at the highest levels to discover who is behind the murders.
The plot in Surrogates isn’t nearly as interesting as the surrogates themselves. The contrived thriller elements thudded along with cartoonish characters such as The Prophet (Ving Rhames) the hippie-like leader of the anti-machine faction. When Greer’s surrogate is destroyed he is forced to leave his home in the flesh. He’s immediately overwhelmed by the sensation of being in the real world again. His struggles to find an emotional connection to his wife who is only to happy to remain in her perfect world living life through her own surrogate. Unfortunately even as the real Greer, Willis delivers his lines in robotic fashion.
The murder plot cheapens what could have been a thought-provoking look at human relationships in the future. Could we really become so detached from true companionship that we would prefer to live our lives in a fantasy world? There were some good ideas at work here but Director Johnathan Mostow chose to play up the wrong ones.