29 October 2009


-->Though there is not a single original idea in Surrogates, the ideas and issues it presents are deep and intriguing enough that it could have been worth 88 minutes of your time. “Could” is the operative word, which means that it is not.

Instead of exploring what it means when, in the near future, people spend virtually their entire lives in their homes, living vicariously through robot surrogates, or “surries,” that they send out into the world, director Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3) and screenwriters Michael Ferris and John Brancato (adapting a graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele) wallow in an uninvolving and underdeveloped whodunit.

Bruce Willis is Boston cop Tom Greer, called on to investigate the first homicide in recent memory. A human, or “meatbag” as humans are known in this robot-dominated world, has a nasty new weapon that he's using to kill other humans through their surrogates.

The biggest, most perplexing question the movie forces you to consider: Why did Greer choose that ridiculous, floppy blonde hair for his surrogate? Everyone else seems to indulge their fantasies through their robot stand-ins—older people become young again or even the opposite sex. Maybe Greer knew he eventually would have to take on a case in the flesh and wanted to make sure he would look cool by comparison with his bald head and goateed face.

A handful of other characters mill about, including Greer’s partner (Radha Mitchell), the inventor of surrogates (James Cromwell) and the leader of a band of humans opposed to the new technology (Ving Rhames). Due to lazy filmmaking, everyone introduced fits into the plot just as you are likely to guess.

The ending makes me think that what comes next would be more interesting than anything committed to film. But don't say sequel—I’m sure that would be squandered, too.

Grade: D
(Rated PG-13 for intense sequence of violence, disturbing images, language, sexuality and a drug-related scene. 88 minutes.)

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