Surrogates Review-A-10/20

Bri Heath

In the year 2017, humans are isolated. Shut off from each other, they walk, talk, work – live from inside their homes. With their “advanced” technology, they each control a robot that is linked to their computer. However, the only two link-ups seem to be some unknown connectivity between the surrogate and the computer and a futuristic-looking headset that creates the link between host and machine.

Built with fail-safes that most movies give to robots, humans are supposedly always safe. Synthetics can be shot, lose arms and even get completely crushed without harming the individual. However, similar to 2004’s “I, Robot,” someone has figured out a way to get past those – making it possible to kill a host through their automaton. The weapon is imaginative of a power-surge gun that one would think up as a solution to a hand-held version of the ship’s large power-surge in “The Matrix”.

In this new world, some humans have cut themselves off from those living through surrogates, calling them “abominations”. Calling themselves “The Dreads,” they’re led by a man known only as The Prophet. The border of their territory looks mostly like a junkyard with security – and a sign that says “No Machines Allowed.” Further in, however, it appears more peaceable.

FBI agent Tom Greer and his partner, Peters, are on the first murder case in years – that of the son of the surrogate’s inventor. While investigating, someone is taking control over other people’s alternates – including that of Greer’s partner.

Greer, who lost a son some time ago, has almost no interaction with his depressed wife – and what little he does is only with her synthetic self. Until seeing her real face for the first time, viewers may wonder how someone his age snagged a wife as pretty as Rosamund Pike who actually loves him.

Bruce Willis stars as Greer, doing the great job we’re used to in action flicks – even if he does get beat up more than usual. Radha Mitchell plays Peters beautifully. James Cromwell is the grieving father bent on getting revenge and is impressive as a man both good and twisted.

The storyline, though well played and well written, could have been better. There’s no support system to the advanced technology portrayed, and in fact, few advances other than with the robots, or something to do with them, are shown. There are no futuristic buildings, styles or even cars. That’s not to say there should be flying cars, but one would expect something big that says “Hey, we’re eight years in the future now.”

Special effects are somewhat reminiscent of previous robot movies, emphasizing things like super strength and speed. Gunky liquid not that dissimilar to that of androids in the Aliens movies pours out of an apparatus’s injuries. Also, a scene where Mitchell’s character jumps on top of a bus reminds audiences of “I, Robot” again, until she jumps on Greer’s car and he begins shooting at her through the roof while steering.

A.I. meets District 9, Surrogates makes for a good rental night, but doesn’t really mark up for the high cost of going out to a theater.