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Movie Review: Surrogates (September, 2009)

Director: Jonathan Mostow
Screenplay: Michael Ferris, sildenafil John Brancato
Actors: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames, Rosamund Pike
Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Robert Venditti, Brett Weldele

It’s sometime in the future and the world has completely changed as we know it. New technology has been invented in the last fifteen years in which sensors have been utilized in such a way where our thoughts, movements can be transmitted remotely into a robot, named here, as one’s “Surrogate”. The story begins in which a surrogate is found murdered, along with the “operator” of the surrogate, spurring an FBI investigation led by Bruce Willis’ character of Agent Tom Greer and his partner Jennifer Peters, played by Radha Mitchell (who is probably the most recognized for her role as “Rose” in Silent Hill)

The world is now full of surrogates with small areas called “Dreads” where it has been agreed no Surrogates are permitted to enter the area. A surrogate could be an attractive young female, but really be a male behind the Surrogate. One could make their Surrogate a younger version of themselves, or good looking, the world becomes truly anonymous, as opposed to just on the internet.

The film is short, only lasting 88 minutes long. It’s a good length, and no part of the film seems unnecessary or overly slow. However, as I discussed with my boyfriend afterwords, the movie seems to be lacking something. It’s strange to make a comment about the simplicity of the story, seeing as I enjoy simple stories, but perhaps when it comes to these kind of movies, I expected more twists and more turns. Though there was a lot of action (albeit, very interesting with flying Surrogates), there seemed to be a lack of building up to the climax, and it felt all rather even.

The character development of Greer worked well. The story they gave Greer didn’t over dominate his character, but one could feel his frustration and the beginning of his frustration, given his relationship with his wife who refuses to leave her Surrogate behind to face him, and the death of their son as a result of a car accident. I had a feeling given the very simple exchange between his wife’s surrogate and flesh self in the kitchen, what the message of the movie would be. The acting was wooden, but I think it was delivered in the sense that people did not know how to interact with people anymore, after living through their Surrogates for so long. Interacting remotely would be considerably different than interacting “in the flesh” so to speak. Keeping this thought in mind, I thought Bruce Willis did a good job, and even more so, Rosamund Pike, who played his wife (I know her best from Pride and Prejudice’s “Jane Bennett”). Even acting as her Surrogate, you could feel the underlining tension between her and her husband, and her fakeness to cover her sadness.

How does this compare to the graphic novel? Again, I’m sorry to say, I didn’t read the book, so I’m not sure how it compares. However, I’d be interested to hear from those who have seen the movie and read the book to see what your opinion might be.

Spoilers Ahead

A few small things bothered me. First and foremost – do people who are using surrogates ever take a break from their surrogates? Do they only use them when the surrogates leave the house, or do they use them inside the house as well? If that is so, how did they have the muscle mass to lift themselves out of their chair to walk out of the door?

I liked the message they left us pondering. It reminded me of Wall-E in some ways, but of course, in a completely sci-fi manner. I read a review somewhere that they couldn’t understand the reasoning behind why people would want to go in this route. At first, I couldn’t understand it personally either, but I do think that this idea would appeal to a lot of people. The robotic-sensory-remote control was first created for those who didn’t have the ability to live a full life, did not have full access to their arms, or legs. The technology then grew in such a way that it was accessible for everyone, and everyone could have their own Surrogate. People are generally lazy, perhaps shy, they like to create personas for themselves, and is there nothing more virtual than having a real self walking around in real life for you? One could have many experiences that they wouldn’t otherwise allow themselves through a surrogate, but the downside is that one could very well become addicted to the use of surrogates they would never allow themselves to leave the house, and see them, “naked” and vulnerable.

The movie touched ever so lightly on this subject, but enough so it would allow viewers to go home and ponder the idea some more. What would it be like if we had Surrogates? Would you use them, if so, how often? Do you think what happened regarding Surrogates being the “representative” of ourselves without our flesh-selves never seeing daylight would happen if we were given the opportunity?

The film is not without flaws, and it lacked a thorough story. The main plot of the story could have been fleshed out more, given more meat, but the underlying message is intriguing enough that it stays with me for some time after watching the movie. The result is that it’s a good film, but not a great one. If you’re a person who enjoys sci-fi films, I would suggest it, but don’t go into this film with too high of an expectation.

Recommended😕3 Surrogates / 5 Surrogates


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