Surrogates posterBruce Willis has spent a lot of his career kicking in doors, but I bet this is the first time he’s had to do it just to get his wife out of bed. Surrogates is a disturbing story of man kind’s dependence on technology and susceptibility to control by fear.  In the not-too-distant future, mid-Sunday A.D., 98% of all humans live vicariously through life-like robots. They lie in chairs that look like the offspring of a La-Z-Boy and a virtual reality entertainment center (“stem chairs”), and rarely leave their homes. Their work, and all other interaction, is done by their “surrogates,” androids connected to their brain stems.

You may, of course, choose your own “surry.” You can be whatever gender, race, body type, or hair color strikes your fancy. It’s sort of a universal Stepford Wives. You see what your surry sees, and feel what it feels (except the pain, of course).

In the future, all murder scenes will look like this.

In the future, all murder scenes will look like this.

Needless to say, the casting crew had their work cut out for them on this one, even by Hollywood standards, searching for enough perfect-faced, perfect-bodied people to fill out the future streets full of sculpted robots. These, of course, are to be contrasted with the recluses controlling them from home, who have really let themselves go. Willis plays Tom Greer (and his surrogate), an FBI agent whose wife refuses to even set foot outside her bedroom “in the flesh.”

Greer plugs into a stem chair.

Greer plugs into a stem chair.

Greer has bigger problems, however, because early in the movie, what starts as a routine vandalism investigation (below), soon appears to be a double homicide – the first two homicides in the western world in several years. It seems that someone has developed a weapon capable of sending a signal through a surry that not only destroys the surry, but liquefies the brain of the user.

Robocop meets CSI. Got enough crackers for all that cheese?

Robocop meets CSI. Got enough crackers for all that cheese?

The initial theory is that this is subversive action by “Dreddies,” members of a colony where surrogates are outlawed. The Dreddies follow the leadership of  “The Prophet” (Ving Rhames, below), claim sovereignty over a small patch of ground, and spurn all advanced technology, using horses and buggies, and the like.

Ving Rhames, trying way too hard.

Ving Rhames, trying way too hard.

In chasing his man, Greer narrowly survives, and has his surry destroyed. The FBI takes him off the case and refuses to issue him a new one. Now, for the first time in years, he must leave his home and track the killer (you didn’t really think he’d obey his captain and stay off the case?) with only his own weak flesh at his command. His investigation takes him first to the Dreddie colony. But is The Prophet what he seems? (I’ll give you a hint: I brought it up.)

Would you tell this it wasn't your wife? Some guys are just never happy.

Would you tell this it wasn't your wife? Some guys are just never happy.

Willis could have earned a lot of kudos for this film if he’d allowed the makeup department to make his human self ugly. It appears however, that his agent fought not to lower his image one bit. Everyone else is hideous, giving a realistic portrayal of people who haven’t shaved, showered or brushed their teeth for several days. Willis’ acting is passable. His most memorable scene is probably one where he begs his wife, through the eyes of her surry, (Rosamund Pike) to let him see her again (above). The best acting in the movie is probably done by Rhada Mitchell, as the blond, buxom surry of Greer’s homely (work) partner, Peters. I say this because this surry is taken over by several different people in the course of the movie, so she’s always switching characters. She also gets a scene where she runs at incredible speed through the street, doing flips over cars, and so forth. Which raises a question that the movie never resolves: if the streets are now populated with super-strong, super-fast robots, why are there still so many cars?

It’s hard to say more without spoiling a decent flick. I’ll just say if you like sci-fi, or crime stories, Surrogates is worth a look. Not a classic, but exciting, involving and thought-provoking.


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Rating: 2.3/5 (3 votes cast)
Surrogates, 2.3 out of 5 based on 3 ratings 4 COMMENTS


  1. Thanks for this review, Movieseal! I saw a preview for Surrogates a while ago and was intrigued, but couldn’t tell if the movie really delivered for what seemed like a very cool concept. Your review definitely puts this on my watch list. I’m kinda curious what the movie could have done better, but I really look forward to watching it.

  2. Just watched Surrogates the other day. Aside from some mostly unexplored intriguing concepts, all I can think of to say is: Wow, “I Robot, Part II.” Even James Cromwell again plays the mad inventor of the robots who soon discovers he acted on a very bad idea. That amazes me. I would have loved to see the meeting with the producers when he auditioned for the part.

    EXEC: “Oh, I see here on your resume that you have some experience playing a mad scientist who invents robots only to discover your creation(s) will lead to world destruction.”

    JC: “Yes sir, that was in the 2004 Will Smith-headlined blockbuster I, Robot.”

    EXEC: “Alright, well we’re working on a Bruce Willis-headlined futuristic action picture called “Surrogates.” Would you be interested in playing a mad scientist who invents robots only to discover your creation(s) will lead to world destruction?”

    JC: “Hmmm… the role sounds curiously similar to the one I played in 2004.”

    EXEC: “Well… take it or leave it.”

    JC: “Fine, but I want a different character name. And a scene with Bruce Willis! None of that digital crap scrapping my scenes with the star of the movie like that “I Robot” deal.”

  3. Saw this over the weekend and wasn’t all that impressed. Every Jonathan Mostow film seems like a Made-for-TV Michael Bay ripoff, and this one continued the trend. Loud, oversaturated, and poorly acted. I kept on wondering the same thing about the cars, too. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to just ditch cars altogether and just go everywhere with one’s Surrogate? I’m gonna go watch Minority Report again…

  4. “Loud, over saturated and poorly acted.” And youy liked The Mummy?? :)@TacoGrande

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