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Surrogates
BLU-RAY disk
02.02.2010 By: Jason Adams
Surrogates order
Director:
Jonathan Mostow

Actors:
Bruce Willis
Radha Mitchell
Ving Rhames

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In the near future, people virtually plug in to perfect robot versions of themselves and live their life vicariously from the comfort of their own homes, free of any danger, disease or humanity. But when someone begins murdering these “surrogates” with a device that kills the living hosts as well as the robots, it’s up to a detective to solve the case…and decide if this is a society even worth saving.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Hi, I’m a guy and I like Bruce Willis action movies. But the man’s made enough generic thrillers at this point that you have to at least question the quality of each new offering he presents us. This is why I was quite surprised that SURROGATES ended up being enjoyable. At least it was better than the similar I, ROBOT.

I think the key selling point was that SURROGATES obviously strove to be more of actual science fiction in the vein of Phillip K. Dick than a typical action movie in sci-fi clothing. The idea of plugging in to virtual versions of our selves is definitely nothing that hasn’t been broached or explored in science fiction before, but it’s executed well thanks to director Jonathan Mostow’s eye for detail (probably from all the robot experience he got from TERMINATOR 3). There’s cool tech and robot stuff for sci-fi junkies, but the film also takes time to look at the social, ethical and societal impact of the surrogate movement. Trust me, I’m not trying to suggest this is exceedingly intelligent science fiction, just that I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of thought put in to creating the believable world that was presented in between the moments of Bruce Willis shooting people and blowing stuff up.

While a lot of that no doubt comes from the graphic novel on which SURROGATES is based, the film also carries with it some of the source material’s more cliché elements. There’s plenty of bad action thriller stock material here: the rogue cop playing by his own rules who’s still grieving over his dead son and dealing with a female partner he doesn’t want to connect to emotionally. And in the end, the overall mystery isn’t that mysterious and kind of fizzles instead of going out with a bang. But there’s some good action beats on the way there. It definitely makes the most of it’s premise (i..e the fact that everyone are robots) with Willis going unstoppable Terminator-style during some fun action scenes, as well as a great car chase that feels straight out of GTA (or Carmageddon, if you’re an old school gamer).

Plus, it has Ving Rhames playing a cult leader named The Prophet. I’m pretty sure I’d do whatever dreadlocked Marcellus Wallace told me to do.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary by director Jonathan Mostow: I’ve always dug Mostow’s work since the highly underrated BREAKDOWN and the man definitely displays his intelligence as a director with this commentary, citing John Frankenheimer as an inspiration and explaining in detail the world he was trying to create from the graphic novel to the lighting, lenses, and other technical tricks. Not the best commentary in terms of pure entertainment value, but a good listen for those interested.

Deleted Scenes: Four quick ones. Nothing of major consequence; just little things that round out that world. Oh and a guy tries to pee on a surrogate

A More Perfect You (14:34): A detailed look at the real science of Surrogates. It’s almost scary how close we are to something like this. (Some of the footage from the beginning introduction are actual videos of current human-robot interaction.)

Breaking the Frame (6:33): A fairly brief intro to the graphic novel, the idea behind it from author Robert Venditti, and the cast and crew’s interpretation of it.

Breaking Benjamin’s “I Will Not Bow” Music Video: A fairly generic hard rock song, but I’ll take that over the usual teeny bopper music videos we see on DVDs all too often.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I was somewhat surprised by SURROGATES after expecting another tired Bruce Willis thriller. There’s some genuine science-fiction action ideas at work and some fun sequences courtesy of director Jonathan Mostow. Worth a rental for sci-fi or Willis fans.

Extra Tidbit: According to Mostow, there are more visual effects in this movie than any other he’s directed, including TERMINATOR 3. Also if you haven’t seen BREAKDOWN with Kurt Russell you really should.
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