Movie Review: Surrogates


They often say that life imitates art and the same holds true in the latest thriller, sci-fi film, Surrogates starring Bruce Willis and Radha Mitchell.

In a technological era where we communicate via text messaging, email and video, use social networks like Twitter and Facebook as a means to stay “data-connected” and partake in life-simulated games to create a more desirable alter ego of ourselves like the popular game The Sims, Surrogates deftly reminds us just how introverted and disconnected we have become from the external world.

Based on the five-issue comic series, Surrogates, created by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele, the movie captures the not-so-distant future of humankind, brilliantly conveying that if we willfully continue on the ominous path of technological dependency, we will eventually self-destruct.

Jonathan Mostow who directed Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines (2003) and produced Hancock (2008) artfully opens up this movie simulating suggestive, media mind control, introducing the mechanical surrogates as another groundbreaking and virtually imperil-free device that has significantly reduced the rate of crime and racism, proving that everybody needs one.  

Powered by their human owners’ neurological waves through a sophisticated virtual computer, humanity’s fantastical world is obtrusively interrupted when an intruder infiltrates the main system and short-circuits two surrogates that mysteriously causes the death of their owners.

Investigating this improbable crime, FBI agent Tom Greer, played by Bruce Willis (Planet Terror) and Radha Mitchell (Thick As Thieves starring Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas) are called to task to find out who has caused this catastrophic eclipse in advanced technology and their reasons behind it.

With all of the evidence initially pointing to one less than smooth individual by the name of Bobby, played by Devin Ratray (Order of Redemption), he takes a diehard Greer on a relentless foot chase into a “Dread” camp, an off-limits reservation for people who have rejected the use of surrogates. There, he begins to find more clues after realizing the sovereign brigade led by The Prophet, played by Ving Rhames (The Bridge to Nowhere) are planning to destroy all of the surrogates, hoping to restore natural order to human existence.  

Though some of the pulsating mini-plots are Hollywood predictable, like Canter, a decrepit, multi-billionaire, played by James Cromwell (A Lonely Place for Dying), who created the surrogates but later devises his own plan to have them all destroyed, or Agent Stone, played by Boris Kodjoe (Madea’s Family Reunion), a crooked cop looking to advance his career and his pocket, and Greer, a dedicated surrogate user who has a change of heart, it is still a stimulating film that challenges us to humbly look at ourselves in a less superficial light.

Illustrating this subtle point are the common physicalities shared among the surrogates. Immortalized in their thirties, they are flawless reflections of the humans who live vicariously through them, proving society’s obsession with outward appearances. Only as the story unfolds do we eventually start to see the weary souls hiding behind the robots, revealing self-conscious, depressed, reclusive individuals.

Equally, the film also sends an enduring message that if we continue to embrace technology’s warp speed advancements without precaution, we will continue to regress and consequently forget to appreciate the smaller things in life, like the feel of grass beneath our feet, emotional freedom and the pleasure of the human touch, leaving us to conclude that perhaps this could be our very near future.

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