It took me a while to finally see Surrogates, but I could tell from the trailers that I would probably like it, being an avid fan of science fiction. Turns out I was right. I think Surrogates is one of the best sci-fi films of recent years, and I am shocked at how many poor reviews it received. It has only a 39% on Rotten Tomatoes, and many critics called it “mindless” action with few deep thoughts. They must have seen a different film because I saw an amazingly multi-faceted commentary on the practical dangers scientific advancement can impart to mankind.
To be honest, the very idea of surrogacy, that of living an unconfined and painless life through an android controlled by one’s thoughts, is downright cool and is owed to a 2005-2006 comic book series on which the film is based. There are so many implications that are both futuristic and very timely in the present day. Some large, ugly man could walk around masquerading as a hot blond, just as many misrepresent themselves online, whether on forums or dating sites. The fact that people live their lives as machines protects them from disease and injury, but it cuts them off from human contact and the true experience of life. Most say this is better, but something is just wrong, much like Facebook somehow brings people closer and inundates them with “friends” while also keeping those “friends” at a distance. What’s more, the surrogates serve as cameras too, so that people’s lives are constantly under surveillance, mirroring the age-old security-versus-safety debate. As neat as it is that authorities can just shut down people’s bodies when they’re about to commit a crime, such power can also be used for harm, as it is at the end.
Much of the movie is spent on the characters and trying to make sense of the convoluted plot, so the action is far from pervasive. Still, it illustrates well the advantages of a surrogate in a fight and boasts one of the few car chases that can get away with ramming into pedestrians. (Don’t try this at home.)
Bruce Willis is a great lead as usual, handling both the action and the dramatic scenes with his wife with equal skill. I think it’s amazing how they made his surrogate self look so much younger, almost as he did in The Sixth Sense. The rest of the cast is good but unremarkable, except for the always masterful James Cromwell as Lionel Canter, creator of the surrogates. Since he played the inventor of the androids in I, Robot, perhaps he should do one more such film, and they can market all three as the James Cromwell robot trilogy.
Surrogates may not delve too deeply into the myriad social implications that it brings up, but their mere presence is enough to raise it above any “mindless” action film. Considering how quickly Facebook and Twitter have become a fixture in so many people’s lives, the opening scenes describing the rise of the surrogates is certainly plausible. It serves as a warning to embrace technological improvements with caution and discretion.
Best line (for all its astuteness, there aren’t that many good lines): “Look at yourselves. Unplug from your chairs, get up and look in the mirror. What you see is how God made you. We’re not meant to experience the world through a machine.”Artistry: 7 Characters/Actors: 6 Entertainment: 7 Visual Effects: 7 Originality: 8 Watchability: 6 Other (some language and violence): -3 TOTAL: 38 out of 60
Next: #230 – X2: X-Men United
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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