Movie Review: Surrogates

Bruce Willis returns to science fiction with Surrogates. It has been eleven years since Bruce was strapped to a rocket as oil driller Harry Stamper and asked to save the world in Armageddon. Coupled with Armageddon, Bruce’s sci-fi repertoire also includes Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys and Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. That’s all unless you count the M Night Shymalan movies. But Bruce seems to know how to pick sci-fi projects with top-notch directors.

In Surrogates, Bruce teams with director Jonathan Mostow, who is a very promising and hot director that has given us movies like Terminator 3 and U571.

Surrogates, based on the graphic novel, foretells what it would be like if we all created robot versions of ourselves to do out daily activities while we stay home and control them via virtual reality. We could stay young, vireal, buff and beautiful. We wouldn’t have to worry about hygiene, getting fat and aging. It is quite a dynamic and creepy fantasy world depicted in this film.

Once the world is established we meet FBI Agent Greer (Willis) who takes a case that involves users of the Surrogates dying when their robot counterparts die.

Is it the Prophet (Ving Rhames) who is doing the killing as he unleashes his agenda to save mankind from its reliance on the robots?

How about the creator of Surrogates (James Cromwell)? Or worse maybe Greer’s partner (Radha Mitchell). All these are suspects and more as the film twists and turns through this futuristic world at break-neck pace.

Mostow has always done a brilliant job with pacing which was probably the best thing he ever did in Terminator 3. He delivers this mystery with thrills, chases, creative effects and well 2 versions of Bruce Willis and others in less than 90 minutes. There is hardly time for a breath of fresh air.

For me Surrogates felt like a two-part episode of The Outer Limits crossed with Asimov’s I, Robot with a dash of Westworld. The high concept of the film is creepy and seeing what can be done in this film I am dying to see a remake of Westworld.

One of my favorite scenes is when Greer has to go out into the world after being locked away in his virtuality chair for eons. I loved how they dealt with his readjustment and then when they go into the Surrogate rental place was just so cool.

For the whole movie you do wonder what it would be like to have a surrogate but you also wonder how they would function in the world. It is really a hard concept to get your head around before the film’s 90 minute running time expires. So would you want a surrogate? You might be surprised how you would answer. For me that question alone is enough to drive a movie let alone having a murder mystery too.

I have always liked Bruce Willis ever since Moonlighting. He has picked some really oddball projects and some real stinkers. Anyone remember Hudson Hawk? Bruce is back to his out of place hero persona he was so good at in the Die Hard movies and it is interesting to see a guy like Bruce interacting with this environment. I really liked the contrast between surrogate Bruce and older Bruce. Bruce did a dynamite job.

I would have to say the same for Radha Mitchell. She is one of those underrated actresses in Hollywood that we all wish we could see more of. I loved her contrast as well just wished there was more of it. James Cromwell has done meglomaniacal visionary before and well here he feels a lot like villains he has played before.

If you are fans of hardcore sci-fi and fans of sci-fi anthology shows, this movie will really make you drool.  If you are a fan of sci-fi mysteries like I, Robot and Blade Runner than this film is also for you. But I am not sure I can recommend this movie to just anyone. It is an acquired taste and good one for the genre.

4 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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