John McLane is back! Ok, so that’s not really true, Bruce Willis is back, and while there are some robot issues causing him grief, its all a little damp quid either side of the one line where he channels the spirit of McClane and reminds us why ultimately this movie is a bit of a failure.
Surrogates has a decent idea behind it and some decent actors (Willis, Ving Rhames, James Cromwell) but never really gets out of neutral when it had every chance to rip up the highway. Everything about this film is very casual and uninteresting. Straight away the bar isn’t set too high, it’s written by the duo who brought us Catwoman and directed by the man at the helm of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. However, where the latter at least had some exhilarating set pieces that although tacked onto a dead story still left you impressed, Surrogates never fully packs a punch.
Set in a future where the human race has become one giant societal coach potato, almost everyone now goes about their day to day lives sat in their homes connected to cybernetic avatars called surrogates. These idealised versions of ourselves (or indeed whoever we’d like to be) allow us to safely live out our lives as mundane puppet masters ever comforted by the fact our robotic counterparts will shoulder the burden of pain or mishap. That is of course until some clever chap comes along and fries a few folk leaving their brains resembling the insides of a particularly nasty apple pie.
Cue Willis’ Agent Greer to come along and solve the puzzle of who’s behind it all and ultimately save the human race from it’s own laziness.
It’s you saw I, Robot you’ve pretty much got a handle on things in Surrogates. The films are very similar in terms of tone, design, style and story. Surrogates lacks any form of individuality from any other shiny sci-fi action movie from the last couple of years (hints of Minority Report linger throughout). It does have it’s moments however including an exciting chase scene involving Greer’s surrogate leaping giant bounds in pursuit of a suspect before being blown away by an anti-surrogate hillbilly and the continuing CGI involved in making Mr Willis look like a sprightly young thing, even though he is ultimately anything but in the cop against the world role he could likely dial in by now. While it does enough to keep the film enjoyable, the questionable pace and all over lack of omph fail to really kick it out of the starting blocks. It’s just a little too samey. The plot itself means that 80% of the screen time is filled but insanely dully attractive people all looking that little bit uninterested.
The decent action fails to paper over the plots cracks and what starts as an intriguing look into society and our internal vision of our true self delves, as ever, into a evolving series of chase scenes and shoot outs. The films feels like a missed opportunity and with many superior options available Surrogates is left firmly in the “rent it” or “see it on TV” pile when it comes to priorities. Unless of course you can find a Surrogate to watch it for you?