Starring: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Ving Rhames, Boris Kodjoe, Jack Noseworthy, James Cromwell, and James Francis Ginty.
Directed by: Jonathan Mostow.
At first, when I saw the poster and the preview for “Surrogates”, I immediately thought of it as an “I, Robot” clone. Boy, was I wrong. I guess it is safe to say that the posters and trailers for this film simply don’t do it enough justice. Based on the comic book series, “Surrogates”, from the mid 2000s, the story is set in 2017 where many humans reside in almost complete isolation, not having to bother with going beyond the comfort and safety of their homes due to the remote-controlled cybernetic avatars that serve as their very own ‘surrogates’. These surrogates are practically clean and advanced-looking versions of their rightful owners. This whole set up keeps the crime activity at a low, low rate, leaving little room for fear and chaos in the world.
Bruce Willis plays FBI Agent Tom Greer who uses a surrogate of his own to investigate the very first murder ever conducted in several years, the victim is Jarod – the college graduate son of the surrogates inventor, he also uses more than one surrogate. The stakes are raised in the murder case when more humans are killed following the termination of their own surrogates (an event which is not supposed to occur, given that the human counterpart is safe from his surrogate’s injuries/damage). Agent Greer comes to realize that the only way to truly catch this murderous madman is to do the good old fashion way – with his own physical body. Greer steps out of his home for the first time in ages and, with the help of a second agent, ventures out to track the suspect down. On the other end of the puzzle is a man named The Prophet, played by Ving Rhames, who leads a group of humans called the Dreads whom are against using surrogates period.
Wow, it’s a shock to see a presently bald Bruce Willis with his old school ‘Sixth Sense’ haircut (which he uses for his own surrogate in the film). Other than that, “Surrogates” has a unique spin on things to come in the technological world and the near future. We already have massive multiplayer online role-playing ‘virtual world’ games like Second Life, Afterworld, IMVU, and so on in which our in-game avatars kinda operate as surrogates in a small sense (even though we can’t use them out in the real world at the moment), which brings me to another realization – The concept is identically similar to another recent film “Gamer”, although the material is handled far better here (speaking of which, I could have easily seen the producers hiring a rapper as the Prophet, so I’m glad they went with Ving Rhames instead, he fits plus he’s a real actor unlike Ludacris in “Gamer”).
I kind of find it a bit coincidental that Mr. “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” Jonathan Mostow happens to be directing this, considering the material, however, he does a fantastic job. Also, as I’ve said earlier, this is a very interesting sci-fi flick as opposed to what the previews give us. The film is far from the crappy “I, Will Smith”, err, “Robot” I mean. The camera work is clear and understandable, plus the special effects do not appear as overly-animated (trust me, it could have easily been done in a film like this). Although Bruce Willis plays no Joe Hallenbeck or John McClaine here, it’s certainly refreshing to see him dropping a cool and original one-liner at some points throughout the film.