Saturday, October 3, 2009


This was one of the 20 movies I was most looking forward to the rest of the year- and I was a little disappointed. Actually, make that considerably disappointed. I think Surrogates has a very compelling idea that would make a great science fiction story. Unfortunately the movie itself just does not live up to the potential of the idea.

Surrogates takes place in the near future, and most people are living their lives through robotic proxies. This eliminates any sort of risk involved in your daily life. Of course, by extension, it also eliminates your ability to truly experience life. As the movie opens we're introduced to a murder. For the first time, a person is killed while operating their surrogate. This means that using surrogates is no longer a sure fire safe way to experience life. Bruce Willis stars as Tom Greer, a detective investigating this first homicide in a decade.

I think this is a great concept. It explores themes of what happens to people when they're physically cut off from the world. This naturally leads to an emotional distance. The movie touches on these themes- but just barely. Instead it focuses on Bruce Willis doing what Bruce Willis does best- kick some ass. Now normally I'd be okay with a movie centering on him trying to infiltrate an anti-surrogate sect living on a reservation in the heart of New York City. In fact, I'd probably downright enjoy it. But not when an idea has as much potential as Surrogates.

The anti-aging effects in this movie creating a younger Bruce Willis surrogate are awful. They make the young Patrick Stewart in Wolverine look amazing. But I was drawn in this time. The surrogates are supposed to be stiff and unnatural. I would almost swear they did it intentionally, and it added to the unsettling nature of a robot doppelganger. The stiff appearance, that's okay, but there's no excuse for equally stiff dialog.

Surrogates wasn't necessarily a bad movie. It had some interesting parts, before devolving into superhuman chase scenes. And the cast wasn't bad. I always enjoy Bruce Willis, and Rosamund Pike (his foil and wife). And I always enjoy James Cromwell, even if the motivation for his character as the creator of surrogate technology was severely stretched. The problem with this movie is simply that it fell far short of what it could have been. In a way, that's more disappointing than if it had just been bad.


1 comment:

Ben said...

sounds like the B-movie version of Blade Runner