Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Surrogates: An idiotic world of masks!

Let me get the premise of this movie out there first: Bruce Willis plays Agent Tom Greer and Radha Pitch Black Mitchell [Agent Peters] investigate the mysterious murder of a college student linked to Canter [James Cromwell] the man who helped create a high-tech surrogate phenomenon that allows people to purchase unflawed robotic versions of themselves – fit, good looking remotely controlled machines that ultimately assume their life roles – enabling people to experience life to the full from the comfort and safety of their own homes. The investigation leads to a conspiracy and the rediscovery of humanity, that is, if you can trust anyone who is not whom they appear to be...

Willis was more than adequate in his role as human Greer although I found that his transformation from mere dissatisfaction to outright Chuck Heston class hatred of Surrogates in the space of a few scenes, rather unconvincing. Willis was less than stellar in his portrayal of cyborg Greer; His blond comb-over aside - The inane smirk he sported reminded me of the misplaced idiotic smile that James Caviezel sported in the Thin Red Line. Basically, no matter what he was doing, interrogating witnesses or discovering a gristly crime he'd still have this pursed lip smirk which was very distracting. The other performances were strictly B-movie grade with Cromwell only showing any remote attempt at acting.

I wished that this Philip K. Dick-style parable, a social commentary on civil liberty and free will was actually originally written by Dick as no matter how badly it was adapted, it would still couldn't be filled with as many plot holes and leave you asking so many questions afterwards as were presented here. You see the set-up was sheer madness, I've been able to sit back relax and accept a "future history" from a sci-fi movie like Judge Dredd, Terminator, Minority Report or practically anything, possible or impossible provided it's logically explained. But all you get from Surrogates is that by in 2017 we have humanity, 96% of whom are all so depressed with the way look that they'd rather become hermits and control robotic versions of themselves via a virtual reality chair to live their lives for them. This is probably understandable if you're a quadriplegic, weigh 700lbs or someone who otherwise could not have a semblance of a normal life but it doesn't explain everyone else.

I know some people would love to laze around all day as your robot does your job for you and brings home a paycheck, but that's not how this works here - you have to be in constant operational control of your surrogate in order for it to do anything!!! That's not to say there's no use for this tech, but surely it would be limited to high-danger situations such as a soldier, nuclear reactor technician or even a fucking lion tamer!!! But the most idiotic concept you're expected to grasp here is that 96% of the population of the entire world uses one of these robots to simply live their life - they work, throw parties and we even see them go clubbing! WHY????!!! Sorry that's as hard to swallow as a chalk sandwich. Now this is a pretty similar concept to something covered in the Caprica pilot and most likely it's series, but that's treated as an A.I. artificial reality, as easily escapeable as removing your headset. In Surrogates - you have to go the trouble of walking/driving your cyborg home in order to recharge it. What's the point? There's no explanation.

Final Verdict: The movie as a thriller was at best OK, it was sufficiently paced as an action-movie and adequately directed by Jonathan [U-571, T3] Mostow considering it's basically a meld of several highbrow sci-fi concepts melded with "we've seen it all before" action. There was sadly nothing revolutionary, it's not good enough to stand on it's own on your DVD shelf and it can't possibly get a sequel so it's really one to ultimately forget about, maybe after you've seen it once - but stop there.

Colonel Creedon Rating: **1/2



7 comments:

vaughan said...

Speaking of "Chuck" Heston if he had turned up in this wearing a Safari Suit, sporting a natty yellow Cravate and calling the women in this movie "Chicky Baby" he would not have seemed out of place ...that's how "cutting edge" this film feels...just move on Colonel , tell the people of what you saw next and forget this monstrosity of banality ever exsisted!

Constance said...

I have for you a book that is everything this movie wasn't.

Kiln People by David Brin. It's a futuristic tome with a chandleresque tone. The main character is a private detective. In the course of what seems a routine investigation, he uncovers a dark secret...

I was wondering if the movie was based on the book, but clearly not. The book is a great read though.

Civilian Overseer said...

Connie, I am impressed, that is one great book, Brin has never gotten round to writing the sequel "Kiln Time" he wrote my favorite short story "Lungfish".

Constance said...

So, I was not the only one hoping that "surrogates" would be a super cool movie version of the book?

I had a more detailed description of the book, which I lost to the vagaries of the interweb. Not that it would necessarily prompt anyone to read it. Though, I am fairly sure I turned over a copy of this fine book to the Colonel.

Next on my list is the graphic novel series 'Y: the last man.' I have a bunch of ARCs to read, for which I am excited, and for which I have little time.

Civilian Overseer said...

Connie, Might I suggest the Nightsfall trilogy from Peter f.Hamilton or Revelation Space from Alastair Reynolds. both excellent works of Sci Fi. have you seen SG:Universe yet?

Constance said...

Civvy, you may indeed recommend them. The book covers are quite familiar, but what is inside them is not. I have stopped borrowing books as I never finish them in time. Instead I have a stack of ARCs and withdrawn materials through which I am making my way. I'm lucky that I made it through Buettner's "Orphan's Journey." It was good, but no match for John Ringo and David Weber's "March" series. Well, good if you like futuristic military space operas, and I think you do.

As for Universe? No, not yet. Recorded and holding, but not yet viewed.

Civilian Overseer said...

Connie, "like futuristic military space operas"

You know my weakness. ;)