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Old 09-30-2009, 01:03 PM
Jonathan Mostow's Surrogates

Surrogates (2009)

Jonathan Mostow's "Surrogates" is a fascinating sci-fi action flick that brings up some very interesting points and scenarios. Is the human race becoming too dependent on technology? If we had the opportunity, would we completely forgo the smallest movement if we could simply have a machine perform that movement for us? "Surrogates" presents some disturbing answers to these questions.

In the future, a technology has been developed that allows people to act through surrogates, machines that look like people, and are capable of performing just about any task a human can. People can choose what their surrogate will look like, improving on their looks or simply creating a new person altogether. Just about everyone in this future uses these machines, including Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) and his wife, Maggie (Rosamund Pike).

Tom is a policeman who is currently investigating the destruction of two surrogates that led to their users' death. One of these surrogates was being controlled by the son of the man who invented the surrogate technology, Dr. Canter (James Cromwell). The destruction of the surrogates was caused by a powerful weapon being wielded by a man called Strickland (Jack Noseworthy) who is part of an anti-surrogate community called The Dreads, led by The Prophet (Ving Rhames). Tom must quickly discover what this weapon is for and where it is before The Dreads have a chance to use it.

It's interesting to watch as nearly the entire human race has become dependent on these machines. Most people never leave their homes anymore, or even get out of bed for any reason. Tom's wife in particular feels that she IS her surrogate now. Meanwhile, we get to see the real her as she stays lying in her bed, with her graying hair, and multiple bottles of pills nearby.

Tom doesn't seem completely dependent on his avatar though, as we see him up and about in the house at several points, especially after his surrogate is destroyed in a shootout in The Dreads' territory. From here, he has to adjust to using his actual body in the outside world again, but is seemingly able to adjust rather easily, only adding to the possibility that he is not as dependent on his surrogate as much as everyone else is.

Another interesting thing about "Surrogates" is that it doesn't become too dependent on its action scenes. There certainly are a few of these scenes, but they are exciting and not overdone to excess. The film takes the necessary time to explore its themes as Tom tries to explain to his wife how he wants to see the real her, not some machine.

It evokes similar feelings that we've gotten from other science-fiction works like "I, Robot," "Minority Report," and even a little of Huxley's "Brave New World." The human race has begun to think that this is the way things should be; everyone looking exactly the way they want to and not actually having to interact with people.

In a sense, these people have become addicts. The surrogates have become this film's version of Soma, the drug from "Brave New World." The inventor of the technology, Dr. Canter, even admits that the human race has become addicted to the technology. He originally invented it to help people who couldn't walk do so again. I suppose he never imagined that people would use it for unnecessary reasons like pretending to be someone you're not.

"Surrogates" is also worth seeing for its story. From the trailers, it looks like it's nothing more than another loud, dumb action film with Bruce Willis leading the destruction, but I found that it was surprisingly smarter than that. It parallels similar events in today's world as to how many people like to live their lives on their computers using avatars, pretending to be people they're not, from the comfort of their own home. They don't want to risk interaction with real people either, fearing that they would be judged on who they really are and how they really look.

The film ends on a rather ambiguous note, but it is also a note of hope. We can only imagine what would become of a world that goes through these events. Its brief runtime of 84 minutes never outstays its welcome, and goes by very quickly, filling that time with some interesting ideas, and some that could even come true. As I write this review, "Surrogates" is sitting at 38% over at Rotten Tomatoes, but I couldn't tell you why. It's one of the much better sci-fi films I've seen in awhile. 3.5/4 stars.

Last edited by Hal2001; 09-30-2009 at 01:35 PM..
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