One word … plastics

Humanity gets lost in Surrogates

In the “future,” Radha Mitchell and Bruce Willis play robot-babe versions of themselves.

In the “future,” Radha Mitchell and Bruce Willis play robot-babe versions of themselves.

Starring Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell and James Cromwell. Directed by Jonathan Mostow. Feather River Cinemas, Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown.
Rated 1.0

There are so many problems with Surrogates that it’s hard to know where to start. The biggest question: If 98 percent of the world’s inhabitants are using surrogates (fake bodies controlled by remote brains), wouldn’t the host bodies eventually just waste away from lack of exercise? Not to mention the ridiculous notion that people in third-world countries could actually afford the luxury of hi-tech, plastic, “better” versions of themselves …

The film launches quickly into the history of surrogates, an idea created by a man named Canter (James Cromwell) as a way to help those with disabilities overcome them. The project explodes in popularity and pretty soon the Supreme Court is OK’ing the use of surrogates in everyday life. And everyone who’s anyone has a plastic, prettier, younger version of themselves (or of other, prettier people).

Pockets are created for those who are against the idea and prefer their human shells. Their leader, “The Prophet” (Ving Rhames), supposes one day surrogates will fail. He may be onto something, too, if a mysterious weapon that, when used on surrogates also kills their hosts, falls into the wrong hands.

The crux of the film follows FBI agents Greer and Peters (Bruce Willis and Radha Mitchell, respectively) as they try to figure out where this weapon came from and how it works. With most of the characters being presented as robots, though, it’s hard to have much compassion for any of them or care about their plight. It’s only when Greer is forced to shed his surrogate body in favor of his true self that a glimmer of humanity shines through. This, of course, brings on the emotional issue of “being alive” as Greer struggles to decide whether to go back to his surrogate life or remain his imperfect self.

But even with a true human to care about, there’s just so much superficiality to this universe that director Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3—need I say more?) has created that by film’s end it’s hard to care whether it’s obliterated or not.

Willis is in true form here, but seems to be losing steam. And it doesn’t help that his main costars—both his partner, Peters, and wife, Maggie (Rosamund Pike) are airbrushed-perfect robotic characters. Even Cromwell’s Canter character is mostly revealed through a host of surrogates in different forms—we see Cromwell in only about three scenes. And the depictions of the Prophet and his people—well, they’re ugly, like most characters forced underground in these futuristic films. Ultimately, the humanity is lost—which is both a problem in the film and for it.