2009 must be the year of movies about people controlling an external body. There’s the much-hyped Avatar about a marine having an external alien body, Gamer about people being to control other people’s bodies that choose to in a Sims-like world and there’s Surrogates about people having a robot version of themselves which they control. Surrogates feels like a somewhat smarter version of Gamer with a whodunnit plot rather than just being a simple action movie.
In the world of Surrogates it’s possible to control a robot with your mind. This has made it possible for people to replace their bodies with their robotic counterpart. So people mostly stay at home while the robot goes out for shopping, work and fun time. The look of ones Surrogates can be adjusted so like in Gamer and very much the real world of the Internet for that matter a hot girl could very well be a guy.
Due to the use of Surrogates the murder rate has dropped enormously which is natural since nobody comes outside of their house anymore. But of course there is the obligatory group of people against the use of Surrogates led by Ving Rames. They even have their own community and have some sort of truce with “the outside world”. It’s like they’ve put a guarded fence or wall around a city block just like in Banlieue 13 or District 9.
In this world Bruce Willis is an FBI agent who has to leave his Surrogate at home and has to go into the real world for the first time in years when a couple of Surrogates get destroyed killing their controllers in the progress. When word gets out that the destruction of a Surrogate could lead up to the death of the human controlling it complete panic could break out.
Surrogates is a notch above Gamer but that’s not saying that much. The movie delves into similar themes like Gamer but succeeds more into making a social commentary. Partly because Gamer only went for the stereotype of a horny fat slob being in his room all day pretending he’s a horny chick to the outside world. Surrogates also touches upon that but just briefly and it also expands on other reason for using a Surrogate that does not resemble the controller in real life. Handicaps, scars, and other disabilities or ugliness a person has can be excluded in a Surrogate so some people get addicted to the use of a Surrogate and use it even in their own home.
The movie looks great but somehow I felt this could be more than just a generic action film. Just like I, Robot and I Am Legend this movie feels dumbed down to make it easy digestable for the PG-13 audience. The addiction of the Surrogates could be explored more instead of just using these robot bodies as cannon fodder. Willis has proven to be a man that takes certain risks in his movie-career and even with his star-power just so happily takes a cameo or a bit-part. So they could’ve tried to make a more in-depth movie of Surrogates.
Surrogates is just Bruce Willis’ latest blockbuster and nothing more. It’s a nice way of spending 90 minutes but this isn’t going to be a classic and not a movie Bruce will be remembered for.