Sunday, September 27, 2009

Surrogates (2009)


SURROGATES
DIRECTED BY: JONATHAN MOSTOW
WRITTEN BY: MICHAEL FERRIS & JOHN D. BRANCATO
OVERALL SCORE: 5.25/10


The year is 2017, the daily lives of most people are done via a Surrogate, robotic counter part, and the rate of crime has dropped to almost 1%. Things are quickly shaken up though when the son of the Surrogates creator (James Cromwell) is killed by a new weapon which destroys both the surrogate, and it's user. Detective Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) and his partner (Radha Mitchell) are on the case which leads them deep into the political underbelly, and the last remaining humans to rebel against surrogates, and their leader, The Prophet (Ving Rhames).

You know, I wish I could come on here and scream about how critics have no entertainment bone, no ability to connect outside their own circle, but honestly I just can't muster it up for this film. I don't mind Mostow's films per say, they've always been implied subtext, but never realized, always sacrificed in favor of action. Surrogates is no different. Borrowing rather heavily from the plot of Equilibrium (just substitute emotion for surrogates), with a dab of I, Robot sprinkled in, Surrogates is a fun action movie, forgotten as quickly as it runs.

This is something I admitingly find rather sad as Surrogates is riddled with social commentary, underlying every loaded and unsubstantiated plot twist, generic character trying to escape its own social conforms. In fact the most exciting aspect of the entire film is that of Greer and his wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike). Both of whom have escaped into the surrogate world following the tragic death of their son, and their new inability to cope with dangers. Unfortunately this dynamic is never fully realized, stuffed in at random points throughout the plot, it serves as a way of forcing Willis' character transformation, rather than allowing it to unveil itself.

Pike, Mitchell, Willis, Rhames, and Cromwell do fine with what they are given, but there's no real room for growth. With the exception of 2 scenes that entice the mind, but not the intellect, Mitchell is seen in her emotionless Surrogate solely throughout the film. Cromwell is given a more expanded role similar to the one he played in I, Robot. Rhames looks freakishly a lot like Bob Marley, while managing to be little more than just another side story in the plot.

The plot, as best put, is ran almost entirely on action. Occasionally stopping to explain everyone's actions, but never really giving them life. Each character's ultimate fate/decisions feels too scripted, undeveloped, more of a moral statement than a showing of morality. Almost as if I ended this review right now by complaining about the over use of technology. Sure it is in line with the overall subtext, but you'd question why I randomly decided that was to be the point of my post. The point being the movie starts and ends on point but throughout the middle that notion is lost to side stories, plot twists, waving emotion, undeveloped characters, and when it is brought around in full circle you feel as if the film has taken an overly long detour.

It's not all bad though, the action is top notch, Bruce Willis shows once again he can act outside the robot, but only within the action film constraints. As well you always have the lovely Rosamund Pike and Radha Mitchell giving solid and intriguing performances. As well, the initial, and ultimate, point of the entire film is a solid message on modern society, and the constant need for technology to be not only progressive, but monitored. After all, feelings are key to the human experience.


Perhaps in better hands Surrogates would have been a mind blowing experience, but alas I cannot wholeheartedly recommend you run out and watch it right now. I recommend giving it a go once it hits the DVD shelves, it's an entertaining film never the less.

2 better thoughts:

thistimeitwillbedifferent said...

This wasn't press screened in the UK (pretty sure that was the same for the US) which is never a good sign and normally serves to annoy the critics. I'll out it on my Lovefilm list for rental when it appears on DVD (probably fairly soon if the apparently not over-confident distributers have anything to do with it!)

Chase Kahn said...

I can't agree with you on everything -- I found even the action scenes to be lifeless and derivative -- but we can both agree on it being an extremely minor film.

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