(2009)1.5Cammila CollarAnybody who likes a solid sci-fi action film probably loves Bruce Willis, and anybody who loves Bruce Willis would probably be willing to give his futuristic thriller Surrogates a chance. But, sadly, this movie doesn't deliver for fans of the genre, for lovers of old Bruno, or for soulless robotic avatars populating society in place of real humans.
That's basically the premise of Surrogates. Human beings no longer walk around in the real world, and instead stay at home hooked into a super-advanced sensory replication program through which they control lifelike robots that leave the house in their place -- the titular "surrogates." People love that their surrogates are stronger, faster, and better-looking than their "meatbag" selves, but there's also a quasi-hippie collective living on a reservation outside of mainstream society whose members don't believe in using surrogates. When the son of the inventor behind the android innovation becomes the victim of a mysterious murder in which not only the surrogate is destroyed, but the boy at home controlling it is killed as well -- all signs point to the anti-robot enclave, and their vaguely Rastafarian charismatic leader, The Prophet (Ving Rhames).
So now FBI agent Greer (Willis) -- who is clearly disillusioned with surrogate society following an obligatory tragedy in his past (a lonely-looking baseball glove lovingly inscribed with "Robbie" in a child's writing tells us just about as much of that backstory as we ever hear, or need to) -- has to investigate the crime, and get to the bottom of a possible conspiracy behind it to end surrogacy altogether. The way that the mystery unfolds, like the rest of the movie, is pretty flimsy and boring.
For a story mounted on a hardcore Asimovian prologue -- detailed, long-form imaginings about the introduction of technology into the human evolutionary play -- everything in Surrogates besides the special-effects budget feels downright chintzy. The script fails to grab you in even a one-liners-and-explosions kind of way, and even Bruce Willis can't sell the crappy dialogue well enough to get you on board with anything that happens in the story. It does look pretty cool, but not cool enough to make it interesting -- even for a summer action movie starring a seasoned pro.
The filmmaking trio behind the hit sci-fi sequel Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines re-team to explore a future in which humans live in isolation while only communicating with their fellow man through robots that serve as social surrogates and are better-looking versions of their human counterparts. Bruce Willis stars as an FBI agent who enlists the aid of his own surrogate to investigate the murder of the genius college student who invented the surrogates. As the case grows more complicated, however, the withdrawn detective discovers that in order to actually catch the killer he will have to venture outside the safety of his own home for the first time in many years, and enlists the aid of another agent (Radha Mitchell) in tracking his target down. Jonathan Mostow directs co-screenwriters Michael Ferris and John Brancato's adaptation of the graphic novel by author Robert Venditti and illustrator Brett Weldele.