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‘Surrogates’ surprises viewers

By JOSHUA VAIL
On October 5, 2009


Bruce Willis in an action thriller with superhuman androids? Count me in.

"Surrogates," starring Bruce Willis and directed by Jonathan Mostow, opened Sept. 25. It is based on a comic book miniseries written by Robert Venditti and drawn by Brett Weldele.
In the future, all human interaction is done through surrogates, robotic bodies controlled directly by the owner's brain. These bodies are superhumanly strong, fast, and durable, allowing people to do whatever they want without danger.

Surrogates can be younger and more attractive versions of the operators or look like someone else entirely. Since everyone can enjoy themselves with no consequences, violent crime rates have dropped significantly and life is good.

However, some refuse to use Surrogates, live in shanty-towns and are referred to as "meatbags" by the general public.

The action picks up when two Surrogates are destroyed in a mysterious fashion. FBI agents Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell) are put on the case. When they discover that the operators of both surrogates are dead, the case goes from strange to terrifying: it is the first actual homicide in years.

When it becomes clear that someone is killing people through their surrogates, Greer is forced to exit his home with his natural body for the first time in years in order to stop them.
"Surrogates" has a good pace and some very enjoyable action sequences. The story plays out well and has a few interesting twists. On the other hand, the story relies on one glaring logical flaw to keep going, leaving me feeling a bit unsatisfied at the end. The cinematography and special effects are decent but not spectacular.

My other major problem with the story is that it was clearly a metaphor for the Internet and people who lock themselves in their rooms playing World of Warcraft.
The operator of an attractive young woman model is revealed to be a fat, balding man. It's implied that

Greer hasn't seen his wife in the flesh for several years, only interacting with her Surrogate.

Virtually all of the characters appear in the flesh as significantly less attractive than their surrogates. The message about the potential for deception in

anonymity comes through loud and clear.
As a science-fiction fan, the message that our dependence on technology is a bad thing is not new to

me, and in this case I would say it was done in a clumsy way. However, I enjoyed the movie despite its flaws.

The story was not perfect but it still drew me in. I also enjoyed it because it has superhuman androids, explosions, and car chases. You may say this is just because I am a geek and male, to which I reply "so?"

"Surrogates" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, language, sexuality and a drug-related scene.


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