Trailer Tuesday: Surrogates

I loves me a good, slightly futuristic sci-fi flick. I loves me a sci-fi flick more when its premise straddles the border between fantasy and reality, taking society-changing technological advances we're beginning to see today, and pushing the current situation to its evolutionary extreme.

Surrogates, the new action techno thriller starring Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Ving Rhames and Rosamund Pike, does just that - presenting a future in which people live essentially in isolation from one another, never leaving the safety and comfort of their homes. In 2017, life is experienced vicariously through the remote control of robotic bodies, young, fit and flawlessly good looking. These surrogate bodies allow their real life controllers to be who they want to be, and do what they want to do without fear, pain or consequence. A problem arises though when it apparently becomes possible to murder people by destroying their surrogates, and 2 FBI agents (Bruce Willis and Radha Mitchell), themselves surrogate users, are called in to investigate.

Based on a little known comic book miniseries, Surrogates is directed by Jonathan Mostow, one of those able workmen directors whose previous films include Breakdown, U-571 and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines - all of which are solid, polished action movies I thoroughly enjoyed.

Surrogates was released in the States just a few weeks ago, and unfortunately has been something of a financial flop. Critically it hasn't really impressed either, scoring a rating of just 39% on Rotten Tomatoes. General consensus seems to be that the concept behind the film is far stronger than its execution, with the filmmakers refusing to delve into a deeper exploration of the dark potential of surrogate use. Anyone remember Strange Days where a woman experiences her rape from the emotional perspective of the rapist? Now that was dark stuff!

Anyway, the makers of Surrogates are apparently happy to stick to slick, shiny visuals and a twisty mystery-solving plot we've seen multiple times before, especially in big budget, similarly flawed sci-fi (e.g. I, Robot, Minority Report). Still, though, I'm keen for Surrogates. It looks interesting at least, and given the poor selection at cinemas at the moment, anything that piques my interest deserves a viewing.

Surrogates opens in South Africa in exactly one month's time, on Friday, 13 November.


Anonymous said…
Hi! I just want to write a note for Strange Days: what a fantastic film! Charged with excesses in every sense, disturbing! One of my favourites.
Unknown said…
I found it to be rather dull and shallow execution. The potential held so much more - as one excellent action sequence demonstrates. But at the end the movie peddles with familiar concepts that are meant to give depths, but come across as too obvious.

From a sci-fi perspective the technology is not exploited nearly enough. It's more as if a future concept was taken and simply wedged into existing society, instead of giving it more of a push ala Minority Report or I, Robot. Strange Days is an apt comparison, but unlike that film, the concepts Surrogates deals with ought to be far more society-altering than they appear in the film. Some questions come to mind: why do surrogates still drive cars? With such technology why isn't robotics much more prolific?

Finally, the script is very flimsy. After leaving the cinema, I was flooded with several gaping plot holes and other strange problems. If the film was slightly more fantastic in its sci-fi use (like The Island and Gattaca), I could have ignored that and stuck to a bliss of suspension of disbelief. But surrogates completely fails to pull that off. The whole mystery element is also pretty shallow and the 'suspense' bit at the end is just downright unnecessary.

Ultimately Surrogates is a sci-fi with a lot of potential, but a weak script and studio-friendly implementation from the director (something Mostow only seems to have avoided in Breakdown) leaves this as flat and unfufilling.
Pfangirl said…
Karim, I actually would love to watch Strange Days again. I was quite young when I saw it and don't think I appreciated/enjoyed it as much as I could have. I just remember it being really intense. I must look out for it.

James, thanks very much for posting your review. Your comments confirm all my worries about the film. Such a pity...

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