Surrogates is a flawed but ultimately enjoyable Sci-Fi movie. Set in the near future where people stay at home letting robotic “surrogates” live their lives for them, they control the surrogates via a chair in their home. Bruce Willis stars as Tom Greer an FBI agent investigating the first murder in many years. The first time we see the real Tom Greer rather than his robotic self we know he isn’t comfortable with the technology, next to his high tech “stim-chair” we can see an extensive vinyl record collection. Are we dealing with another Del Spooner (Will Smiths character in I, Robot)? Unfortunately the character like all the others in the film is a little one dimensional. Greer like all other cops in this type of film is defined by three things. A past tragedy, marital problems and his relationship with his partner and superior. That’s the first problem; we have seen it all before, the film totally lacks originality. The second is that the plot although grand in intensions is absolutely wafer thin and unfolds quickly with no real surprises rather than developing. The original investigation is quickly forgotten as a bigger one begins, all this is handled in a very matter of fact way that fails to draw the viewer in (note to director Jonathan Mostow and writers John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris. Before you embark on another film like this go back to basics and watch some of the classic adaptations of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane books. It might give you a better idea on how to construct a detective story).
The final problem is plausibility. I don’t see the attraction to the whole concept of surrogates. If people can live lives in the stim-chairs and interact with others via the surrogates the important part of the technology is the chair and not the robot avatar. These people could live their lives in cyberspace and interact with others in their chairs not bothering with the expensive and complicated robots. But the big question why would people want to do this? I’m sure controlling a surrogate would be fun like playing a computer game but to live your life that way, it certainly doesn’t appeal to me. I also find the world these people live in a little strange. They have created these hugely complicated machines but still drive the same cars and use the same computers we use today.
There are some good points. The 88 minute running time prevents the film from dragging and the performances are actually quite good. Bruce Willis almost plays a duel role as both himself and his surrogate. Most other actors are seen mainly as one or the other. Rosamund Pike is very good as Willis’ wife who is as addicted the use of her surrogate as she is to the prescription medication she takes. The action scenes although brief are also well handled as is the very effective ending.
Ultimately the film is trying to tell us that the characters living their lives by proxy and depending on the technology are missing out on something. That is exactly how I feel about the film, there is just something missing.
The film is based on a graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele; I will not be amending my Top Twenty Comic Book Movies of the Decade to include this one!