The screenwriters and director of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines have re-teamed to give us another underrated Sci-Fi robot action movie. Surrogates isn’t doing so hot at the box office but I caught it this afternoon in a nearly empty theater and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Do yourself a favor and check it out on the big screen before it disappears completely. It’s a lot better than Terminator: Salvation that’s for damn sure.
“Surrogates” are lifelike robots that humans control via a computer hook-up (it looks like a cross between Neo’s Matrix portal and the virtual reality set-up from Lawnmower Man). The Surrogates go to work, get groceries, and go out dancing while the human just sits at home in the chair doing nothing. After a prominent scientist’s son is murdered, Agent Greer (Bruce Willis) is called in to investigate. He quickly uncovers a plot by “The Prophet” (Ving Rhames), a stanch anti-Surrogate agitator to kill every person hooked into a Surrogate computer. When Greer’s Surrogate gets blown to shit by The Prophet’s men, Greer has to go out into society for the first time in years to get his man.
Like most good science fiction, Surrogates gives us some subtle political commentary (The Prophet’s “Live” posters are almost exactly like Obama’s “Hope” posters) and makes an important statement on the times we live in (the people in the movie that are constantly plugged into their Surrogate are clearly meant to represent those idiots who sit around on their ass all day playing World of Warcraft). It also delivers on the action side of things. There are only two or three big action sequences, but they work extremely well because of your emotional investment in Willis’ character.
Bruce does a great job in this flick; both at playing his plasticy faced Surrogate (with a full head of hair) as well as the world-weary cop. He is particularly awesome in the scenes where he has to get acclimated to walking around the city for the first time without a Surrogate. Bruce also gets to do a neat little Snake Plissken thing there at the end that I liked (no I won’t spoil it for you).
Surrogates does suffer from a tad bit of déjà vu though. It’s almost as if someone put Terminator, I Robot, and The Matrix in a blender and hit Puree. That’s fine by me though because it was never boring and it made all of its points without being overly obvious. Surrogates also happens to be a great Bruce Willis action flick and the world always needs more of those.
Surrogates lands on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of the Year list for 2009 at the Number 10 spot; placing it just below X-Men Origins: Wolverine.