Surrogates

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surrogates.jpg

How do you save the world when the only real thing is you?

2009

Genres: SciFi, Action

Starring:
Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Ving Rhames, James Cromwell, Rosamund Pike

Summary:
In the near future, people live in almost total isolation and interact through surrogates - physically perfect robotic avatars of themselves. Any termination of a surrogate just means that the operator's consciousness shifts back to the real body, meaning that murder no longer exists.

Tom Greer (Willis) and his partner (Mitchell) are assigned to investigate the destruction of two surrogates which mysteriously resulted in the death of their operators. One of the victims was the son of Dr. Canter (Cromwell), the famous inventor of the surrogates. As his investigation continues, Greer's surrogate is destroyed, forcing him to solve the case and uncover the origins of a new terrifying weapon using only his real body.

Response:
Surrogates succesfully balances elements of action and mystery with some really interesting exploration of human interaction. The main plot revolved around the murder of Dr Canter's son and managed to even throw in an unexpected twist near the end. On a side note, after this movie James Crowell has now cemented his typecasting as the pioneering inventor in action-scifi films (Star Trek First Contact, I Robot, and now this one!).

Although the main plot held my interest during the entire film, I found the underlying themes to be the real hook. The characters spend all day interacting through their avatars, even hosting dinner parties through them, but ultimately everyone lives in closely guarded isolation. No one knows if the cute blonde they're talking to is really a tubby old slob sitting in an old Cheeto-covered lounge chair. The relationship between Greer and his wife was quite touching, although there has been an overuse of the dead-child-as-cause-of-relationship-problems in recent scif-fi films (Minority Report, Children of Men). Surely there's other ways to explore marital issues?

Unsurprisingly, most of the criticisms of Surrogates stem from the wooden acting and Bruce Willis' blonde wig. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that these were deliberate additions to the movie to highlight the imperfect perfection of a world filled with surrogates. And I'm pretty sure Willis knew exactly how daggy his flowing blonde locks were (there's probably a reason the man appears bald in most of his movies).

Speaking of Willis, he turned in yet another solid performance in an action-scifi film. His age and vulnerability were obvious, and he was definitely not a superhero once his character was trapped in his real body. Again, this was another decent commmentary on the facade of the world in which physical ideals were embodied by everyone.

Point Blank:
Good ol' Hollywood sci-fi fun - action, mystery, heart, and one impressive blonde hairpiece.