Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

This movie 'Surrogates' exists in an alternate universe where folks have completely tuned out of reality and now use super fancy advanced robots to be whoever they want to be and also be as beautiful as they want to be. What’s funny about this is that this is a film that features a lot of impossibly beautiful actors and actresses such as Rahda Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, the two hotties who played the legal counsel for this mythical VSI corporation… damn… with the minor challenge for the makeup department being how to make these actors who were born beautiful look less attractive when we’re supposed to see what they really look like when they are not controlling their respective surrogates. Then we have our star Bruce Willis. The challenge here was more pronounced as we have to make this cat look young and beautiful, not that I’m saying Bruce Willis isn’t a beautiful person… on the inside…, but I am thinking they probably had to use more computer trickery than Revlon to pull this off. On the other hand I’m thinking it was probably pretty easy to make Bruce look all beat to hell. Heck, on scenes where Bruce was required to be his character disconnected from his surrogate they probably didn’t even bother to send him to makeup. Just rolled up on set, right out of bed, ready to go.

Anyway, in this movie most everybody in the planet has pretty much zoned out allowing their perfect humanoid surrogates to handle everything. People rarely even leave the house. Only a small fraction of the population, led by a cat calling himself The Prophet (Ving Rhames), has refuted the surrogate evolution and live amongst themselves in beat up shanty town reservations preaching revolution.

Then the strangest thing happens. There’s a murder. That’s strange because crime is almost irrelevant since everybody is perfect and happy and doesn’t leave the house. Investigating this murder is top cop Greer (Willis) and his partner Peters (Mitchell) in their Surrogate forms. What makes this murder even more intriguing is that the victim is the son of Dr. Lionel Canter (James Cromwell) the inventor of the technology that drives the surrogates, a man who was forced out his company some years ago.

Sensing something isn’t quite right Greer starts digging deep to get the bottom of the rabbit hole, but quicker than you can say ‘conspiracy’ Greer’s finds himself laid up in a hospital, his surrogate destroyed and his superior (Kodjoe) lifting him off the case which means he’s going to have to crack the code the old fashioned way. Adding to Greer’s list of issues are some pressing family problems with a wife (Pike) who won’t leave her room and spends all of her spare time partying via her surrogate which has kind of turned my man against the whole surrogate concept. But there is still a growing list of murders to solve and everybody from The Prophet to the monolithic VSI Corp. to the military to the very police department that Greer works for seems to be involved, but as Greer will find out there is way more at stake than just a simple case of murder.

‘Surrogates’ is an interesting movie to attempt to discuss. I thought it was a good movie and an entertaining movie but after it was over it felt like it should’ve been a better movie. The concept launching ‘Surrogates’ is fantastic on a high concept sci-fi level, which isn’t all that surprising since the story was pulled from the rich fertile ground of a popular graphic novel written by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele… you didn’t think a major Hollywood studio could actually up with a decent idea for a movie all by their lonesome did you? Of course not. So we have an over-reliance on technology, the World of Warcraft brought to real life if you will, and people completely disconnected from each other with all this taking place in a fully realized, wonderfully conceptual alternate reality. I was a little curious about the 98% world-wide Surrogate saturation rate, meaning that these things must be pretty damn cheap since almost everybody on the planet earth has them. Then as far as an action movie goes director Jonathan Mostow has enough running and shooting and robot mayhem slipped in this movie to keep it from descending into the realm of overly talky sci-fi mumbo-jumbo, and we’re looking directly at you ‘Matrix Reloaded’.

What keeps ‘Surrogates’ a ‘good’ movie and prevents it from being a potentially ‘great’ movie, at least in my opinion, are the thriller aspects of the film. As the movie gets deeper into the mystery of it all it adds more layers of content without enough substance to support this content, which invariably leads to distracting plot holes. Most movies have plot holes, but the best of them don’t rear their ugly head until long after the movie is over when you’re discussing the movie with friends or going over it in your mind. Not this one baby. These gaffes happen in real-time. However I think this was more the result of a function of time more than anything else as it felt like the filmmakers needed to hurry this thing along, and as such just started inserting objects just for that purpose. They just weren’t very well done and didn’t keep much into the flow of the film. The movie also has some of those issues which will cause one to ponder after the final credits roll, but those points are actually fun to point out and talk about and usually don’t detract from the whole movie watching experience.

‘Surrogates’ was an entertaining movie with a lot of things working for it in its favor, it just wasn’t a transcendent movie. That’s not really a criticism because how many movies really are transcendent but ‘Surrogates’ felt as if it were set up to be just that, but wasn’t able to pull it off.

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