Directed by Jonathan Mostow.
Starring Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Ving Rhames, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Cromwell and Jack Noseworthy.
Humanity now ventures out of the house in robot form, piloting ‘surrogates’ from their own rooms. It’s a safer future, until an actual person is killed.
“We’re not meant to experience the world through a machine.”
Oh, right. That’s quite an awkward thing to write on a machine. But this is about a dystopian science fiction film. They’re meant to exaggerate things like that in the future to portray anxieties in the present. That’s nothing like how we are now…
*puts fleshlight on charge*
The premise of Surrogates addresses this reality imbalance. Some time in the future, hardly anyone leaves his or her rooms anymore. Instead, they pilot humanoid robots from the safety of their beds. Crime and disease are practically eliminated. Nobody touches to transfer viruses; units can be shut down before they commit an illegal act.
Everyone has their own walking, talking avatar, which only differs from us by their physical presence. Our egotistical, online personas are only digital, made up of tweets and posing profile pictures. Those in Surrogates have gone further, now into the physical, using fully robotic versions of themselves through which they can experience the world. Without fear and with supreme confidence.
Because the main trait these surrogate bodies enables is vanity, the consequence being that everyone in the film is very sexy. Radha Mitchell and Rosamund Pike are in it for Chrissakes. The main difference between Bruce Willis and his surrogate is a full head of hair. The poor guy. The rest of the cast need to be made up to look below average for their non-surrogate-selves. Willis just gets a kick in the nuts.
Willis plays an FBI agent named Tom Greer. There’s been a murder and the case is dumped on his desk. He can’t remember the last time there was a real homicide. If people were shot or stabbed these days, it only meant you had to replace the surrogate unit. This guy was flesh and blood, not nuts and bolts. Oh, and he was Jarid Canter, son of Dr. Lionel Canter (James Cromwell). He’s the guy who invented the damn androids in the first place.
There is a small portion of society who refuses to adopt the surrogates. They’re called the Dread Reservation, which is a pretty awful name for what is essentially a freedom movement. They carry themselves like modern day terrorists – really dumb, but with access to high-grade weaponry. Initially, their leader The Prophet (a densely bearded Ving Rhames) is the prime suspect. But in a detective film, when is it ever the first and most obvious person? The culprit must lurk somewhere within the institutions upon which this new, surrogate-dominated world relies so deeply. The camera angles speak for themselves. With everything so tilted, you know something ain’t right.
As the film enters its final act, it starts to fall into all the cliché surprise twists that characterise the action thriller. There’s a twist here, and a twist there, and some double crosses to boot. They work within the plot, but it does feel like the film is going through the motions a little. The exposition gets a little clunky, too. It’s as though they realised there was a lot more character back-story than they thought when they first started, and try to cram it all into the final 15 minutes. Like when you start of writing really big bubble letters on the front of someone’s birthday card, only to finish squeezing the last four letters into tiny stick writing at the end.
The central concept behind Surrogates, however, works fine. There are similarities between it and The Matrix, but it differs in one hugely important aspect. In Surrogates, the humans have a choice. They have a choice whether to experience life through an android, the easy option, free of any risk or modesty, or as themselves, with their own bespectacled, lazy eyes and their own brittle, irreplaceable bones. In The Matrix, the human race was enslaved. It’s not their fault their minds projected them as super cool and in leather.
This exploration of ego and vanity is explored through Greer’s wife, Maggie (Rosamund Pike). She works in a beauty salon, promoting perfect nails and perfect teeth and perfect hair. And all the while, in reality, she sits alone, self-barricaded in her room, unfit and with stringy hair, refusing to see Greer with her own eyes, afraid of what he’ll think when he looks back at her. But all Greer wants is to touch her and be rid of this world of computers and robots.
But that’s just a dystopian science fiction film. That’s nothing like how it is now.
*posts review to Twitter*
*takes fleshlight off charge*
*enters credit card details into BBW Web Chat site*
365 Days, 100 Films
Movie Review Archive