In Surrogates’ world, the vast majority of the population sit at home getting blotchy skin conditions while sleek, sexy robotic versions of themselves operate on the outside. There’s a pretty decent premise there. A derivative premise perhaps, but heck, that didn’t harm sci-fi of the year Moon did it?
Jonathan Mostow – the legend behind U-571 and T3 – takes the reins, with Bruce Willis and his daftest haircut yet starring as Agent Greer, an FBI-er tracking the first murder for years in this semi-mechanoid utopia. Some dude with a laser gun has shot a surrogate and – completely missing the point of living one’s life vicariously – the human plugged in at home has had his brain “liquefied”.
This should lead to a big fret, bombastic explosions or in the world of intelligent screenwriting, fraught discourse about the nature of individualism, society and how in the name of playing God did millions afford their own android clone. Instead though – annoyingly for a director who once dragged Arnie behind a big truck – Surrogates unravels with all the thrill of a slow plod, action snuffed out before ignition and everyone from Willis to Rosamund Pike as his surrogate-addicted missus Maggie slowly stuffing up their latest turkey. It’s as if they sent in their doubles…
The script by John D Brancato and Michael Ferris – the genii behind Catwoman and The Net 2.0 – picks up towards the end as a preposterous conclusion is mooted, but everything here seems so routine, so disinterested that it becomes near impossible to care.
“First the computer. Then email… People are living their lives remotely from the safety of their own homes…” gabbles the press notes and it’s hard to suppress giggles at the childlike simplicity behind the whole nonsense. Why two stars? To encourage the filmmakers to give us a call for a neat idea we’ve got for Surrogates 2, that’s why. Seriously. It’s ace.
A curious blend of Minority Report, The Island and The Stepford Wives, Surrogates feels like a film with very little purpose. Slickly made, but lifeless. Bit like the eponymous clones then. Call us for the sequel though… Seriously.