Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Directed by Jonathan Mostow.
2009. Rated PG-13, 89 minutes.
Bruce Willis
James Cromwell
Rosamund Pike
Ving Rhames
Boris Kodjoe
Radha Mitchell
Jack Noseworthy
James Francis Ginty

Someone has developed a weapon that not only kills surrogates but also simultaneously murders their human operators. Surrogates are robots that people purchase to literally do their living for them. Human beings simply sit in a “stem chair”, reminiscent of what Neo and company used to plug into the Matrix. However, instead of controlling what is essentially a digitized version of who you want to be, you control of robotic one. You think it, it does it. This goes for speech, work, play and even facial expressions. And your surrogate doesn’t have to look like you or even be of the same sex. If you’re familiar with the game “The Sims”, just imagine that taken through its logical technological evolution. Surrogates are apparently extremely affordable because nearly every person has one. Therefore, almost nothing but robots roam the streets. Any real human being that dares show his face in public is referred to as a “meat bag.”

When the first murder takes place early on, and we indeed learn it is the first homicide in quite some time, Det. Tom Greer (Willis) is on the case. When his surrogate is irreparably damaged he has to venture out into the world himself to try and solve the crime. Of course, as is the way in movies we learn that this is much bigger than one killing. Lots of twists and turns follow. If you’re not paying attention it can become confusing. Still, it’s confusing in a good way. The action is solid if mostly unremarkable, save for one particular chase scene in which we see what surrogates are capable of. They can’t quite fly, but let’s just say they make LeBron James swooping in for a monster dunk look like he barely got off the ground.

The premise and the quest to figure out who’s who are more intriguing than the action and rightfully dominate the picture. Though the battle between those for and agains surrogacy is on full display, other potentially tougher issues are vaguely hinted at but never explored in any meaningful way. Chief among them being what will happen to the world’s population. Does it start to dwindle? Or do people manage to unplug often enough to procreate? How about physically? Are people going to generally become the weakened blobs we saw in [i]Wall-E[/i]? We never venture down those paths.

It’s an interesting movie that puts a twist on the oft-used sci fi theme of technology taking over the world. Instead of robots or computers forcefully seizing power, humans have willfully given it away. As a “movie night” popcorn flick, it works but it also gives a little more to think about than most. However, if you find yourself confused early on you might check out and think both this film and I are crazy.

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