Surrogates is another cautionary sci-fi tale to hit DVD/Blu-ray shelves that forgets the main thing that makes science fiction really interesting, is allowing the audience to think. The movie instead prefers fast pace and a short run time to actually allowing the world and characters to take a breath and live for a moment. The credits sum up how the surrogacy program began as a way for handicapped and paralyzed people to experience a normal, albeit virtual, life. Then of course the trend catches on faster than the iPhone and we end up living in a world where everyone is plugged into a computer and disconnected from each other. Unfortunately with an 89 minute running time, we don’t stay in this world long enough to really care for anyone involved.
More after the jump.
Surrogates has a pretty cool premise. The idea that we all would rather plug into a computer program and live without risk of disease or harm vicariously through a perfect robot version of ourselves sounds pretty cool. Humans’ obsessive need for technology and this need eventually leading us to allowing technology to live and control our lives as well. I can buy into that. The base human want for excitement, danger, and cheap thrills, all with no actual risk? Well surrogacy isn’t sounding too bad. But then somebody had to go and figure out a device that can fry not only the surrogate, but the user as well. Leading to the first murder in decades, but don’t worry Bruce Willis and Rahda Mitchell are on the case. Too bad the case is pretty easy to solve and the viewer knows what’s going to happen next before the lead investigators do.
The plot unfolds so rapidly that it feels like you’re walking into the third part of a trilogy and a whole lot has been left out. Science fiction is supposed to trust that the ideas and parallels that are being drawn from the futuristic society the film portrays to our own current society are interesting enough to sustain a viewer’s attention. This movie feels like the Cliff’s Notes of an actual movie. As if we were given bullet points of main action and then it’s done. So I wouldn’t say that Surrogates is a bad movie by any means, just not a complete movie.
What Surrogates actually does in the film, it does well. There are a couple action scenes that are exciting and well made enough to outshine some of the fodder filling multiplexes this time of year (Legion perhaps). The acting is surprisingly pretty good, Bruce Willis finally gets to do something other than scowl and crack one-liners. It’s movies like this and Unbreakable that remind me just how awesome Mr. Willis actually is, don’t get me wrong I’m a huge fan of John McClane, but I like to see the more wounded and vulnerable Bruce every once in a great while too. It’s like Superman, when portrayed perfect and God-like the character is boring. Show me a flawed and broken down Bruce Willis that has to fight for what he loves and cling to his humanity and he’s got my movie ticket money any day.
What I’m going to say next might sound like a contradiction to everything I’ve said thus far about this Cliff’s Note film, but the movie has a good pacing to it. It zips right along and there were definitely no moments that made me bored or where I would rather update my Facebook page. I want to make sure to mention that I appreciate the filmmakers not drawing things out for the sake of self-indulgence and just sticking to the gameplan of a wham-bam sci-fi action movie, but at the same time I wanted a little more. I guess I’m in limbo with this film, I enjoyed it because it was fast-paced and well-acted and had a decent enough premise and delivery to keep my attention, but it doesn’t have the same epic feel or complete story arc as something like Blade Runner or Robocop (two of my favorite science fiction movies ever!!). They both have action and sci-fi, as well as good acting, but take time to have a story arc instead of a story bullet. Matt Goldberg reviewed this in the theaters and I couldn’t say it better “the best science fiction doesn’t make a statement but asks questions. Surrogates already has the answer before the opening credits are over.” This allows the audience to enjoy the ride, but we never really get connected to any of the characters or surprised by any of the plot turns.
Watching this film makes me want to read the graphic novel and see what was left out, I’m hoping there is a lot more to this world I spent such a brief time in because it definitely deserves some more exploration. I would say for final thoughts on Surrogates that it is an enjoyable and decently made science fiction movie that will easily suffice for a rental, but the memory will fade into obscurity shortly after the credits start to roll. Popcorn sci-fi with some nice moments interspersed throughout.
What a lame trend, to release the Blu-ray with a bunch of cool stuff and the DVD with next to nothing. I have a Blu-ray player, but not everyone does and that really sucks for people who can’t afford or don’t want to switch to HD to leave them with no extra goodies. The DVD of Surrogates has a music video by Breaking Benjamin and a director’s commentary… that’s it.