Text Reviews Theatrical Review

Theatrical Review: Surrogates

In the near future, a new invention has taken over the land, the concept of the “virtual self” where the user can remain at home and by cybernetically connecting to a robot body that can safely interact with the outside world. These “surrogates” act as an idealized avatar in the outside world with the benefit of the host user never being hurt or killed in anyway. Soon though, a murder is committed that not only takes out the surrogate but also kills it’s user, and now FBI Agent Tom Greer has been called in to investigate the case.

Surrogates is the latest comic book to movie adaptation, based on the graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele, and it’s the newest movie from director Jonathan Mostow, who’s previously given us films like Breakdown, U-571 and Terminator 3. And it’s a lot of fun…

I’ve not read the graphic novel so I can’t say really how well it compares to that, but what’s here presents a lot of very good ideas, and though this seems to have been somewhat compressed (the running time of the film is right around 90 minutes), overall it’s story is pretty complete. It’s got a great look to it, especially with some of the more artificial aspects of the surrogates themselves, and the action in the piece is pretty darn compelling.

Bruce Willis plays Tom Greer, and it’s a pretty good and deep performance from Willis where he basically serves double duty as both his real world self and his surrogate, and the differences between the two are pretty well done on his part, with him being more bold to action when in his surrogate body and a lot more pensive when he’s forced to be his real self in a world populated by surrogates. He’s backed up with a good cast including Radha Mitchell as his partner, Boris Kodjoe as his FBI superior, Rosamund Pike as his completely disconnected wife, James Cromwell as the inventor of surrogate technology, Ving Rhames as a character called The Prophet, leader of an anti-surrogate society, and Mostow regular, Jack Noseworthy playing the initial murderer. Everybody does a great job, with me having to give props in particular to Rosamund Pike as Greer’s wife.

There really is a lot of good ideas at work here and I just wished the movie had been a little longer to explore some of that more- one of those ideas included the process of how all licensed surrogate users are all interconnected into a central system which is constantly under observation- when two of the users decide to venture a little further into illegal territory, this central base sees the action and immediately procures a warrant that lets them just as immediately shut down those users- pretty fascinating stuff to see how the justice system works with this…

Even though I wish there was more here, this still delivers a pretty good viewing experience. I know I had a great time seeing Bruce Willis back on screen and giving a top-notch performance. Surrogates is very much recommended…

By Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

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