Review by Cassam Looch
THIS slick and intelligent sci-fi thriller might not feel entirely original, but when it’s done with this level of competence it’s impossible not to get swept up in its high concept.
Bruce Willis stars as FBI Agent Greer who along with the majority of society in the near future has come to use a robot as his interaction with the real world.
Everyone has plastic-perfect versions of themselves, created so they can be controlled from home to go to work, form relationships and generally live their lives. Greer and his wife (Rosamund Pike) have their own reason for hiding out in this world, but everything changes when a ‘surrogate’ is destroyed also causing the operator to die.
This is the first murder for years and Greer sets out to investigate with his partner (Radha Mitchell). As they slowly uncover a conspiracy linked to The Prophet (Ving Rhames) they encounter a small group of people who think that things should go back to the way they were. All this leads to a profound change in Greer who is forced to go out into the world as himself to get to the truth.
It might look and feel like I, Robot but director Jonathon Mostow adds enough of his own flair to keep things fresh. There are some great ideas at play but only a few of them actually add to the story. It’s also a shame that we don’t get to see them fully realised as the short running time leaves you wanting more.
Willis is still one of the best leading men working in mainstream Hollywood, however, and Surrogates offers the chance to see him at his best, delivering believable action sequences, improbable dialogue and some great acting. He’s also not above poking fun at himself as the appearance of his surrogate proves… the bad hairpiece is a definite giveaway!
Mitchell and Pike provide more than just eye-candy, even if in the latter’s case her role is just that of an impossibly attractive surrogate refusing to deal with the tragedy in her own life. Mitchell gets to try a variety of characters and appears to have some genuine fun as an ass-kicking ‘supercop’ later in the film.
The plot doesn’t bare too close a scrutiny as the final act in particular gets lost in a series of convoluted events that serve only to deliver the dramatic final images the director has in mind for the climax. These stark and unnerving shots work well, but you can’t help but feel this could have been done better.
Overall, though, this is a surprisingly enjoyable and intelligent movie which is a highlight in an overcrowded week of releases and is one of the better films around at the moment.
Running time: 88mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: February 1, 2010