Review: Surrogates

042709_surrogatesBased on a fantastic graphic novel, Surrogates is an enjoyable, if dumbed down adaptation.  Bruce Willis stars as FBI Agent Tom Greer who lives in a future where most people on Earth live out their lives through robotic doubles called Surrogates.  The users can do and sense anything their robotic self experiences but without any of the danger.  Because of this, crime rates are down and most everyone seems happier.  There is a segment of the population who believe the surrogates are abominations and have forged territories out of major cities.  This splinter group is led by a man called The Prophet.

If you enjoyed I, Robot then you will probably enjoy Surrogates as the two are very similar in structure and look.  Greer and his partner Peters must investigate the first homicide in years and uncover a conspiracy involving the creator of surrogates, played by James Cromwell.  The surrogates aren’t as visually appealing as the I, Robot bots however as most of the surrogates look like animated wax versions of their real life counterparts.  Bruce Willis in particular looks extremely weird as a surrogate, especially his terrible haircut.  The surrogates are also kind of inconsistent in their abilities, most of the time they act like normal humans but every once in a while they can leap 20 feet in the air and stop cars in their tracks.  There are two big action sequences, both chases, and they are pretty good. The first one in particular is probably one of the highlights of the movie.  The end is also kind of impressive but was kind of upstaged by the premiere of Flash Forward last week.

Acting wise, it’s pretty good all around.  Bruce is his headache having, grizzled self in the second half of the movie and drops the best line in the whole movie.  Ving Rhames shows up as The Prophet, Rhada Mitchell is Bruce’s professional partner Peters and Rosamund Pike is Bruce’s wife Maggie, who has become addicted to living through her surrogate.

The graphic novel is extremely dark and very reminiscent of Blade Runner and similar noir/sci fi stories.  It goes into detail about the social issues that would result from the use of Surrogates and ends on a pretty down note.  The movie mentions some of the issues but puts them on the back burner in place of visuals or action.  For instance, one of the murder victims is a female surrogate controlled by a male owner.

Surrogates isn’t going to redefine the sci fi/action genre but it’s an enjoyable movie that’s probably in the upper middle of the Bruce Willis scale (which goes from Die Hard at the top to Hudson Hawk on the bottom).  I wouldn’t run out and see it but I would say it would make a good rental when it comes out on DVD.

3.5 out of 5

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