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Surrogates (2009)
  • Director:
    Jonathan Mostow
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Michael Ferris,John Brancato
  • Cast:
    Bruce Willis,Radha Mitchell,Ving Rhames
  • Time:
    1h 29min
  • Budget:
  • Year:
People are living their lives remotely from the safety of their own homes via robotic surrogates -- sexy, physically perfect mechanical representations of themselves. It's an ideal world where crime, pain, fear and consequences don't exist. When the first murder in years jolts this utopia, FBI agent Greer discovers a vast conspiracy behind the surrogate phenomenon and must abandon his own surrogate, risking his life to unravel the mystery.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruce Willis Bruce Willis - Greer
Radha Mitchell Radha Mitchell - Peters
Rosamund Pike Rosamund Pike - Maggie
Boris Kodjoe Boris Kodjoe - Stone
James Francis Ginty James Francis Ginty - Canter
James Cromwell James Cromwell - Older Canter
Ving Rhames Ving Rhames - The Prophet
Jack Noseworthy Jack Noseworthy - Strickland
Devin Ratray Devin Ratray - Bobby
Michael Cudlitz Michael Cudlitz - Colonel Brendon
Jeffrey De Serrano Jeffrey De Serrano - Armando
Helena Mattsson Helena Mattsson - JJ the Blonde
Michael Philip Michael Philip - Uniformed Cop
Danny F Smith Danny F Smith - Victim (as Danny Smith)
Brian A. Parrish Brian A. Parrish - Hard Hat (as Brian Parrish)

Surrogates (2009)

Because Bruce Willis refused to re-record several lines of dialogue when the movie was being restructured, a sound-alike voice-over actor had to be brought in.

During the opening montage showing the development of the surrogates, there is a shot of an Asian man with an android twin. This is actually footage of Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University and his creation -- Geminoid, a prototype android double of himself.

The film takes place in 2017.

The weapon appears to be based on an ozone generator -- with a bunch of added parts to make it look more exotic and weapon-like.

A close-up shot of Strickland's FBI file shows his date of birth as December 21, 1969, and birthplace as Lynn, Massachusetts. These are also the real date of birth and birthplace of actor Jack Noseworthy, who plays Strickland.

Radha Mitchell read the comic book while filming.

The exterior of the VSI building is a digitally altered version of the Dallas Bank of America Plaza (informally known as "The Green Building"). The interior is actually in Cambridge, MA, and is home to Genzyme and Momenta Pharmaceuticals. It was designed by Steven Ehrlich Architects & SMMA.

In the "beauty shop" where Maggie works, a device can be seen for holding the "faces" of surrogates. In reality, it's a Gorillapod, a flexible tripod for cameras.

Jonathan Mostow's first film since Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003).

The unusual shoulder patch worn by Colonel Brendon is the 26th Infantry Division. A former division of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, it has been deactivated since 1993. The insignia is actually a stylized "YD", for their nickname, "The Yankee Division".

The opening credits, interspersed with futuristic news footage, run to almost four minutes in length.

Ranger tab is worn on the left shoulder, the 1st Ranger battalion scroll on his right shoulder shows the unit in which he served in combat.

The country music heard at 1:17:34 into the film was also used in Breakdown, another one of Jonathan Mostow's films starring Jack Noseworthy.

Some scenes were filmed at the Draper Factory in Hopedale, Massachusetts.

Bruce Willis amc Ving Rhames would appear 15 years earlier in Pulp Fiction (1994)

A lot of the filming takes place in lynn ma central square

Hanna Hilton: The porn actress appears as Female Robot.

During the opening scene when Canter and his father are discussing Tosca, Canter Jr. says "Don't tell me how it ends" and Canter Sr. responds "Like they all do -- everybody dies". This can be seen as foreshadowing his plan.

The vehicle wrecked during the beginning of the movie is the same model of Jeep Grand Cherokee (ZJ) featured prominently throughout Breakdown (1997) also directed by Jonathan Mostow.

Surrogates is a sci-fi movie about a future where every human being can connect their bodies into machines & they instantly live a different life through their robotic human-looking surrogates. Anybody can just stay home all day while they are connected online with their surrogates that can just easily live outside in the real world. But when a surrogate was killed along with its user, FBI agent Greer unravels a conspiracy that can lead to the death of billions of lives.

The storyline of this movie falls somewhere around the categories where movies like Blade Runner, Minority Report, and I-Robot belong. A movie that talks about how future technologies can affect human life and provide some philosophical point-of-view that is worth pondering on. The idea of technology progressing into and reaching the boundaries that it becomes an abomination of nature. The movie tends to be thought provoking, but does not make it good enough to be worth an entire evening of discussion.

There were some moments that seemed preachy, but could have been delivered more effectively if given a proper execution or interpretation. I am talking about the moments when our main character realizes the beauty of a world free from technological complexities. We also have the minor subplot of a corporation just concerned about safeguarding their own products. And a main character coming to the realization that these products eventually diminish the humanity of a person.

It is surprising that the weaker point of this movie is the action. The terminator rip-off scenes seemed bland and there was a chase scene with a female surrogate that looked goofy because it employed a "superhero" type of action. To make it worse, there are some visual effects that look like they've been rendered 15 years ago.

With the main character of Bruce Willis running around in his actual human form for most parts of the movie, we realize that he basically is the weaker person in this world of robotic mannequins, and yes we do see him bleed a lot in this movie (it is funny to note that Willis is one of those actors that just look cooler when he gets more scars and bruises, it's like John McClane only without the crazy action). With him being the frail character, that alone clearly reminds you that this is not your regular Bruce Willis action flick. The movie just basically starts out as a futuristic detective-type movie then progresses into the same mood as Willis was in films like "Unbreakable" where he stumbles around a maze that leads him to some enlightening truth.

The high points of this movie lie in the storyline. Second is the way the movie creates this amazing-looking world of a future inhabited mostly by surrogates. The surrealism of the movie is not too far-out that most of what you see seem like they exist in the present world; there are no flying cars or rockets everywhere; its just the simple existence and presence of mannequin-like robots everywhere. The storyline may be good enough to be enjoyably satisfying, but it certainly is not the best, or perhaps not good enough to be groundbreaking.

All in all, SURROGATES is one of those good sci-fi movies that will simply entertain those who are fans of smart sci-fi movies. Action junkies may be a little disappointed though. This is a far cry from Blade Runner, but this certainly gives you a cheaper version of that kind of enjoyment. I loved it. But it is definitely not unforgettable.
I see many reviews here that denigrate the film, and a few that celebrate it. I believe it deserves neither fulsome praise nor vitriol, as it is a somewhat better than average film betrayed by bad choices.

I'll keep this short: The concept is decent, the execution is mediocre, the result is that I give it 7 out of 10 stars.

I would have graded this far higher had the creators spent more time making several of the characters more human (which is funny, given that "humanity" as compared to a more machine-like existence is a core concept of the screenplay), but they didn't. The only character in the film who achieves anything like true humanity is Bruce Willis', and this occurs only because the plot requires it.

When a film's construction and leverage depend on the very definition of humanity as it's core concept, leaving the humanity of most of the characters behind is something more than stupid -- it cripples the film.

This doesn't mean the film is unwatchable; it has enough elements of action, pathos, suspense & revenge to make it worth your time throughout.

But it could have been so much better, if not for so many poor choices.
It's a great concept. In the future, the Sims style online gaming, where people live vicariously through characters, has evolved to living out real-life, in the real world, via surrogate robots. Everybody stays home all the time, 24/7. They work, play and travel via their surrogates, from the comfort of their home.

I'm not spoiling anything here -- this all happens in the first 5 minutes. The result of this new era of existence is the dramatic drop in violent crimes, sexually transmitted diseases, death by accident, etc.

Well, it's a great concept. And the CGI is good. Because of the plot, every character is insanely pretty, so the screen is filled with beautiful people.

But... it just... doesn't... quite... gel. The whole thing feels like a cool episode of Star Trek, or something on TV. The story is not riveting. I didn't really care about the characters. The timing was off; things either came too late (I was bored, expecting them) or so fast I couldn't really appreciate.

Surrogates lacks that wow-factor.

Example of bad timing: At the start, one wonders, "What do the users really look like? Anything like like their surrogate robots?" I would expect that, at first, we see Bruce Willis, just some facial hair which his robot doesn't have. Then, eventually, we see that he is older than his robot, so he's "cheating" on age too. Even later still, maybe we'd see an obese person at home posing as an athlete via a surrogate which looks nothing like him. Well, "Surrogates" skips all that build up and goes straight for the punchline: within 10 minutes we see a hot chick robot making with a young man; turns out the hot chick is actually slovenly a middle-aged man. Any twists to come later, in this variety, loses all punch.

Worth a rental.
With the number of mainstream movies centered around a future human dependency on robots, it would be incredibly stupid if we actually let that happen. "Surrogates" is the latest of these concepts and surprisingly one of the more well thought-out ones. Based on the graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele, "Surrogates" imagines a world where humans interact with the world solely through robot versions of themselves called surrogates. They don't have to leave their homes and are impervious to danger.

Writers Michael Ferris and John D. Brancato, who previously collaborated with director Jonathan Mostow on "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" and sadly also wrote the Halle Berry "Catwoman," do their best work with this script, which is of course not saying much. The positive here is that they truly embrace and explored the possibilities of a word where people don't interact with people -- just the robot versions of themselves. It's the saving grace of the film.

Bruce Willis stars as a homicide detective assigned to the very first case on record where the actual human operator of a surrogate died when the surrogate was killed. With nearly all of the planet using surrogates, any knowledge of danger would throw the world into panic. Willis -- Det. Greer -- must track down the weapon that did the damage. When his surrogate is destroyed, Greer begins to re-examine life through non-virtual eyes.

Without question, however, the concept and the setting are far more clever than the script. Ironically like robots, when you boil down the exterior of "Surrogates," it's composed of overused clichés and recycled components of Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick stories. The simple premise and thoroughly conceived world of "Surrogates" manages to override some lousy story lines and character development, but I'm not sure that most viewers who come to "Surrogates" looking for more action and less high-concept science fiction will be able to say the same.

The subplots and back stories given to Greer and other characters are throw-away. At 89 minutes long, "Surrogates" offers just enough in terms of story development to be a glorified TV detective show set in the future. The twists are foreseeable and the character motivations barely scratched at, but it keeps your attention and stays focused enough on the central story that you never have to actually dwell on the more hollow elements of the film. The venerable James Cromwell, who plays the disgruntled inventor of surrogates, has never looked more shallow in a role, but it's hardly of any consequence.

Sci-fi epiphany? None here, but a well-calculated exploration of a possible new technology - - yes. "Surrogates" is not mindless fun, but it's not artistic science fiction perfected to a tee either. It does just enough to intrigue the future-curious mind with a different cut from the same robot mold.

~Steven C

Visit my site moviemusereviews.com
As with most films, the trailer made this look like it would be something good – an action movie with an interesting sci-fi concept behind the world created for us. For this reason I was a bit surprised to see the "finishing time" of the film being listed as barely 90 minutes after the start time because I thought it would be hard to do all the things that the trailer proposed in such a comparatively short time. Leaving the film at the end, I found it easily fitted into the 90 minute time period and sadly it achieved this by not actually doing a great deal that I had hoped it would. The plot sees us in a world where the majority of humans live their lives from the comfort of their homes, experiencing life through the android clones (surrogates). Although pockets of humanity have banded together to resist this, generally they are seen as weirdos rather than having any sort of point. Due to the surrogates, accidental death has been nearly eliminated while crime is at an all-time low. However when the destruction of a surrogate leads to the death of the user, Detective Tom Greer is assigned to the case – a case that becomes even more high profile when the victim turns out to be the son of the creator of the surrogacy system.

The potential is there in the plot and the various things they put in around it (Tom's marriage, the loss of a child etc) but it doesn't really deliver on much of it. The subject matter isn't really that thought provoking, partly because it doesn't hold out a lot for consideration by the viewer but partly because the film doesn't even seem happy with its own world creation. The whole idea is full of holes to the point that the film can't hide them or distract from them for very long and you get the sense that it is rushing a bit before it all runs out through its cupped hands. This is a shame because it niggles the whole way through and becomes worse whenever we see what surrogates can do (their speed, strength etc) because you wonder why the world looks the same as it does when full of "normal" people. Outside of this though it is still an action film of sorts so one hopes for thrills of that side.

Unfortunately this doesn't really spark either. The running/jumping effects are not perfect and the scale of some of the action sequences means that some come over as being remote and not engaging or thrilling – a bit like watching someone else playing an video game that you don't really care about. It isn't bad though – the effects do still work, the action is still noisy and the plot is decent enough to at least not irritate – but that is the sort of level of film we're dealing with, one where my "praise" of it includes me saying its not too irritating! The performances sort of match the patchwork feel to the world and the film – it doesn't seem to be sure of itself and neither are they. Willis does his best (despite the wig etc he has to wear) but doesn't manage to balance the action with the character stuff and, thanks to the material, doesn't really deliver on either. Mitchell is so-so, as is Pike, while Cromwell essentially dials in a character he has sort of played before (but it made sense in other films) and Rhames is just plain odd.

Surrogates is not an awful film – but it is a distinctly average one thanks to the amount of things it half does. Whether it is the action, the substance, the effects, the performances or whatever, it all appears to be "OK" but never pushing for more than that. Improved focus, a stronger script and a longer running time could have made this a better film but ultimately it was just average.
I first viewed Surrogates upon its home format release and positively found it very ordinary. Viewing it again, with focus and in solitude, it proved to be a far better experience.

The action scenes are what you would expect for a multi-plex appeasing popcorner, loud, colourful and owing great debt to modern technology. Yet to dismiss this totally as one of those easy money making blockbuster movies is most unfair.

Surrogates oozes intrigue, even if it doesn't quite deliver on the smartness written on the page. The idea that in the future robotic alter egos can carry out our everyday mundane functions is cracker-jack, and it opens up a whole can of berserker worms.

This is not merely an excuse to have Bruce Willis running around exploding surrogate robots, as much fun as that is of course, there's a deeper emotional core pulsing away as Willis fights the good fight to make sure being human is not cast aside like a thing of the past, that as flawed as we are, hiding away in a surrogate is not the answer.

This axis of the story is beautifully realised by the plot strand involving Willis and Rosamund Pike as his wife, with both actors doing fine work to give it the required emotional heft. It may ultimately lose itself to a standard conspiracy plot, but there's intelligence within to make Surrogates a better film than it first appears. 7/10
This film was an interesting twist on the robot as human concept, with a plot that managed to keep the viewer interested right up until the dramatic ending. A high tech company has specialized in mass producing surrogates, or personal robots, which are sold to the American middle class. They are quickly adopted to perform routine functions and then essentially perform high level functions (like one's job). The main theme was how the surrogates assumed people's lives and identities to such an extent the flesh & blood owner of the surrogate could stay home and presumably pursue higher level interests. The reality was most people simply fell into a spiritual stupor, resorting to alcohol or drugs to pass their time.

The actors were all very good and up to the task of portraying themselves in robotic fashion (this doesn't require great acting skill but the screenplay was quite good). I thought Bruce Willis did a good job in the lead role(s) as FBI Agent Tom Geer (he also played his "surrogate" as a very low key robot). Bruce's surrogate is investigating the death of the son of the founder of the corporation that invented and produced the surrogates. This kicked off the main plot, which centered around an armed resistance group opposed to surrogates and attempting to defeat the surrogates and the corporation that produced them.

If the plot sounds confused, at times it is, and the ending may be less than satisfying. But for a far fetched sci-fi movie about robots, this was one of the better ones I've seen.
Although this movie boasts a great Sci-Fi concept, there are a couple of elements in the setting that is just too flawed even for science fiction. I'll come to those flaws shortly.

Having accepted the implausible environment, i.e., a world where 98% of humankind stay at home with their minds plugged into their surrogate robots that they live their life through, the rest of the plot is pretty damn riveting. The mood of the film is more akin to Minority Report and certainly feels like a Philip K Dick narrative. The future depiction is not overly futuristic in technology other than the Surrogates themselves so don't expect a big budget effects ridden movie. Having said that, the Surrogates robotic power makes for a couple of excellent action scenes comparable with the Will Smith vehicle "I, Robot".

But as usual, it is the awesome Bruce Willis who carries the movie both as surrogate (a disturbingly young look with a frightening wig!) and in human form. Thank god he carries it though because there are hardly any significant supporting characters in the story as it focuses on him most of the time as he investigates a rise in rare human murders. There is just something re-assuring about watching him on screen, regardless of the film quality. Going into the 4th decade since Die Hard, he is still in my view a bona-fide movie star.

I said there were flaws in the whole concept. Well, I find it impossible to even speculate the possibility that 98% of humankind will love sitting at home plugging their minds into a surrogate robot that they can live their lives through and let their natural bodies wither away with no exercise or self esteem. It seems they prefer to have sex as robots, and flirt with young women surrogates who may be controlled by an old man or...well you get the gist. The appeal is supposed to be a 99% reduction in crime rate where accidents or crimes against a surrogate does not affect the human host. That concept is too flawed even for science fiction. What is stopping a surrogate from burgling a house killing its human owner for example? I don't knock the concept of surrogates itself, its an excellent one but I don't buy the social environment.

All in all this was a very very decent entry in the intelligent Sci-Fi movie library. Despite my gripes I enjoyed it and I expect most Sci-Fi lovers will too.
Rolling Flipper
Rolling Flipper
The important thing to understand about this film is that it is not a prediction of something that is likely to happen. Rather, it is a metaphor for something that has already happened.

Television was the earliest foray into this phenomenon. How many of us form a significant portion of our impression of the world based on what we see through this artificial sense organ? With television, we are all 5% closer to the creature depicted in Surrogates. As I sit here at my computer writing from this remote location, I am 10% of the creature depicted in this film. When I get on a discussion forum with an avatar that represents my impression of myself or possibly the impression of myself that I wish to project, I am 20% of the creature depicted in this film.

I have begun to teach an online class. My students, instead of seeing me as a living flesh and blood person, now see me as an intellectual engine that they may visualize in any number of ways. I have the option of posting a picture, but have not gotten around to that yet. I now do part of my work from a safe remote location—as an abstract disembodied entity.

After leaving the theater, I had an overwhelming urge to spend more time with my dogs. They are very physical and can never relate to the concept I herein discuss. Actually I had a new insight into their possible impression of all the time I spend watching television: "Stop staring into the scrambly box and pay attention to us. Snap out of it!"
Finally saw this and I'm with the majority here... a solid 7/10 film.

This surprisingly compelling sci-fi film takes a while to set up its universe but delivers down the stretch. It's borderline whether they establish enough credibility so as to invest real emotion in to the characters and buy in to the premise. If you allow yourself to buy in to the bizarre concept of living life through android duplicates, then the film works on a few levels. It's somewhat weak on certain of those levels but raises interesting questions concerning the level of our technological dependency as we live our lives. The emotional aspect of this movie plays better thanks to a fine performance by Bruce Willis. His character's journey through this bizarre world is obviously the heart of the film and it's written and portrayed very well.
ᵀᴴᴱ ᴼᴿᴵᴳᴵᴻᴬᴸ
ᵀᴴᴱ ᴼᴿᴵᴳᴵᴻᴬᴸ
With the action heroes of my generation all too old or M.I.A. (Ford, Hackman, Eastwood), I have consistently made the comment, "Thank God for Bruce Willis". Good ole Bruce, aging towards his mid-fifties, consistently brings action films to our local theatres year after year after year. As an actor, he has 70+ projects contained within his historical biography and the guy keeps making bad films mediocre and mediocre films watchable.

Surprisingly, he has but one credit to his name in 2009, Surrogates, a film that looks ripped from just about every other science fiction fantasy you have ever seen or read.

Extracted by a graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele, Surrogates transports us to a future where people live through robotic surrogates from the privacy and safety of their own sanctuary and can manipulate their avatars into either copies of themselves or they can transform themselves into just about anything they want (I say just about anything because the world was not full of Megan Fox's). The opening credits give us a 14 year history of how we got to whatever future we are in at Present Day.

But when a murder – the first in an eon – occurs, FBI agent Greer (Willis) is assigned the case and his subsequent investigation outside of his own surrogate is filled with enough revelations to bring down the entire Utopian world.

I can't even begin to ramble of the countless movies the Surrogates borrows from in an effort to keep us entertained for the very swift 88 minutes of running time. Hell, there were even a few television programs I thought it copied for certain scenes.

That noted, Surrogates is not all that bad. Director Jonathon Mostow (Terminator 3 – which I actually liked) might not have put the most seasoned piece of sci-fi on the screen, but he could have done much worse with the cheesy premise.

The special effects are kinda few and kinda crappy. A scene with a surrogate riding on the hood of a car was blue screen embarrassment. But the special effects are kept in tow as Mostow tries for more of an atmosphere than he does an all out future world experience.

Bruce Willis always throws me off in movies where he has hair and Ving Rhames shows up as a human (?) who opposes the surrogate conglomerate. It's been 15 years since Rhames and Willis had screen time together and I was thankful there was no plastic ball in their mouth and a gimp parading in front of them while they approached their purpose in the script.

Surprisingly, for all the borrowing and lack of any true originality, Surrogates, is watchable. The ideas are all squished (think of a marshmallow being squeezed through a key hole) into an entertaining if not enthralling sit that might not exactly be worth $50 and a babysitter to make a night out of, but it can easily be a rewarding DVD rental in the new year.

Recommendation is clearly to rent it.

Steel balls
Steel balls
Surrogates is just an entertaining science fiction film that is there to please movie-goers and not win any awards. This is good science fiction but I have to say Avatar and District 9 were much better. But still I like to enjoy Bruce Willis.

This is about how technology invaded human life. Most humans have their own surrogates which are robots they control and inhabit with their minds. Things begin to get out of hand when a weapon is used that will not only kill the robot, but the human occupying it. What will happen? The acting is pretty good.

I like Bruce Willis in anything so it's not surprising that I like this. James Cromwell is pretty good too.

Overall, this is a cool science fiction movie. I was entertained most of the time. I rate this film 8/10.
In a near future, with the development of the robotic, mankind stays at home operating surrogates with their signature to live their lives in the outside world and resolving issues like racism, complex and safety and reducing crime rates. Only a few people live in reservations the traditional way of life without the use of substitutes. When the surrogates of a man and a woman are destroyed by a sophisticated weapon, the FBI agents Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell) are assigned to the case and sooner they discover that the operators have also died. Tom Greer goes further in his investigation and finds that there is a conspiracy involving the army, the company VSI that manufactures the androids, the FBI, The Prophet (Ving Rhames) leader of the humans and the scientist that had developed the surrogate technology Canter (James Cromwell).

"Surrogates" is a flawed but entertaining feature with an interesting concept but many plot holes. If the viewer does not think about the story, he or she will certainly enjoy a lot. But the screenplay does not explain many points, like for example, how could people live sitting on a chair without any sort of exercise have a safer and healthier life? Why Canter had not dedicated to destroy the surrogates only without harming the humans disconnecting them first? Why Peters did not get the access code by herself? What has happened with the humans when they discover that The Prophet was a machine? There are many other flaws but in the end I am a fan of Bruce Willis and Radha Mitchell and I found this movie is a good entertainment. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Substitutos" ("Substitutes")
Don't spend too much time or money on this movie if you are bothered by seriously inconsistent or unrealistic science in a science-fiction movie. Despite great production values and acting, the film is marred by a badly imagined technological world.

A world technologically capable of producing robotic avatars that convey complete sensory experiences to the users would not, as the world in this film does, resemble early 21st century in every other meaningful way. The technology necessary to accomplish such remote direct brain interface control and sensing is so advanced on so many levels; it would, by definition, be accompanied by other equally huge changes in technology.

In Surrogates, the world is basically "ceteris paribus" but for one enormous mind-bogglingly advanced change. We would expect, for example, far more advanced robotics in other areas, such as dangerous occupations such as law enforcement and tedious occupation such as low level sales. Yet there is no evidence of this in the film.

Similarly, the notion that the entire world's robotic avatars would be susceptible to a one-point attack is simply too absurd. The Web today has multiple redundancies in terms of DS servers as well as other protocols. Corporations and governments maintain multiple backups for important functions, with several levels of Internet available only to high level academic and military users. That a similar level of sophistication doesn't exist in Surrogate's world, despite having an economy dependent on the technology, is too implausible.

I can suspend my disbelief with the best of them, but the suspension necessary to enjoy Surrogates comes at too high a cost.
When I first began watching the documentary-style introduction to Surrogates, I had to admit I was impressed because I'm a sucker for these openings (I loved District 9), but I was afraid I was in for another cool futuristic type movie like Minority Report or I, Robot. Admittedly, these were two great movies yet I feared this movie would bring nothing new to the table. We've already seen huge interactive ads, protests against machines, moral dilemmas, and conflicted leaders trying to make statements (James Cromwell plays almost the same character in both I, Robot and Surrogates!). What new things could the director of Terminator 3 show us? It turns out he could bring us what I, Robot failed to deliver as effectively: a good knockout resolution. In other words, this movie delivered a non-Hollywood type ending, similar in the vein of Watchmen (though that is thanks to the great Alan Moore). I always appreciate when a director is willing to go out and boldly create a vision (even if it is based on a graphic novel, some directors like Carter Smith still change the ending – as he did for The Ruins movie).

The film is the tale of a world where everyone's basically a couch potato. Technology is so amazing that we can create multiple robots of ourselves, in any form, and control them from the safety of our own homes! We're completely safe as long as we're plugged into the network and no one harms us as we operate the surrogate robot, or "surrey." But as usual, conflict arises and the characters are drawn into a world of corruption, rebellion, and sacrifices. The screenplay is full of twists and turns, all very smart and satisfying, though somewhat predictable. Doesn't really matter to me though; films like these are made for mindless action with parts that make you think. Or so I thought.

Mostow, a natural action director, handles the camera very well in action sequences. It's the usual Hollywood fare with great, fast-moving action and impressive special effects (though I keep thinking of Transformers 2 when I say that, so I probably won't mention CGI again). I also really liked how much he utilizes the element of surprise: there were many moments where I jumped back in shock, though there wasn't anything necessarily that scary. It's just the juxtaposition-ing of calm and BANG. It's clear Mostow is good with the action cam (nothing new in the era of Michael Bay), as he demonstrated in T3, but this time around I was impressed by how he directed the emotional scenes with Bruce Willis and his wife. He handled the feelings well. This in part has to do with Bruce Willis as an actor as well. He did a fine job with this movie, solid. There's also some good humor too, though I think I laughed too much. And it all led to the final punch.

These are all similar-sounding critiques for me. I tend to enjoy cinema for what it is: for pleasure. However, what was different was the ending. I was expecting the typical run-of-the-mill Hollywood ending, but it certainly wasn't (though there was a bit of a twist). I must admit I gasped a bit when I saw the end. I said, "Whoa." If a film, amidst good stuff, brings home something new (District 9, for example, was a seriously good commentary besides an action film), I'm impressed. I appreciate it very much: Mostow keeps the audience in mind. Sure, there were flaws (like its short running time, sometimes it takes itself too lightly) but overall it was a great viewing experience. I was enjoying it as I watched – as I usually do for movies – but the bold Watchmen-like finish really brought it home for me.

Oh, and Ving Rhames was pretty damn bad-ass.
I basically agree with Ebert's review on this one. This is definitely only a simple action flick, but it is well made, the acting is decent, the f/x very good, the film is never tacky, boring or overtly see-through. Enough to keep e viewer interested and entertained while lounging on a couch eating popcorn and drinking beer on a Sunday afternoon. What's wrong with that? In addition, it poses a couple of interesting questions about our current and especially future relationship with machines, the morality of it, etc. These questions will become more and more important as each day passes, and even though the movie does not even attempt to analyze or answer them, it is not unimportant to have posed them. A classical, typically Hollywood-ian ending offers no real solutions, all the wrong certainties and faulty answers, albeit populist ones.
'Surrogates' is a film that shows how the introduction of a new technology has radically changed the world we know. This new technology, which is freely available to everyone, has brought the crime rate down to almost zero, and united humanity in ways never before imagined, leaving a few filthy hard-line rednecks to wave the flag against progress.

So! What is wrong with this picture? Rather than think about what would REALLY happen with everyone using robots to do everything, the writers of this film have created their own reality for the sake of convenience. For example:

  • Why would giving everyone a mind-controlled robot to play with reduce crime? The robots allow anyone to do ANYthing, so surely EVERYone would be doing EVERYthing! Life would suddenly be like Grand Theft Auto. Also, while everyone's using their robot, they're practically asleep in their own homes, so home invasions and other related crimes have never been easier. - How does everyone get a robot? You *know* the poor ain't getting' one, but apparently abject poverty is no barrier to joining the robot revolution. - Why can't the FBI fly over the redneck camp? They can hack into people's robot feed and shut them down legally within 20 seconds, but fly a helicopter over some hippie's love circle? Forget about it, Willis, hand over your badge and gun.

And now, my other problems with this film:

  • the entire film was shot on a dutch tilt (i.e. the camera is askew; this device normally indicates something wrong in a scene). I noticed this about thirty minutes in, and after an hour I realised the director was probably trying to say something about his world (i.e. 'this world ain't right') and would likely have the camera right itself in the closing scenes. Sure enough, when Willis makes amends with his wife, the camera goes level, so all is right with the world once more.

This is the most pretentious conceit I have seen in film in a long time. Yes, a director must communicate through the language of film, but an entire movie on the dutch tilt is someone saying 'Look at me! I'm saying something important!'

  • Why didn't the bad guys send hit men or ninjas or something to James Cromwell's house and just kill him for real? He's in a wheelchair, so it ain't like he's going to outrun a ninja. So much simpler than using a super secret weapon and blah blah blah. Plus, the ninja could make it look like an accident or natural causes. - Why did James Cromwell commit suicide right before seeing everyone else die? And why a cyanide capsule? He had a perfectly good gun right there! - James Cromwell (in robot form) just happened to sneak into Radha Mitchell's house and see the EXACT MOMENT of recorded footage that would tell him how kill everyone on the planet? What are the freakin' ODDS of this, people? - We've got instantaneous mind control over robots that are miles (if not hundreds of miles) away, and yet we still use USB? Please.

Ah screw it, this movie was crap and I feel better now. :)
I really enjoy watching fast-paced thrillers and murder-mysteries. Unfortunately most films which are released these days do not put the time nor effort into flushing-out a story. Often times I resort to seedy little horror films to watch a good whodunit film. Therefore Surrogates was definitely a great surprise to me. I went in expecting some idiotic action film which should have gone straight to video and was very surprised at how engaging this film was!

The only reason I didn't give this film a 10/10 rating is because Brancato and Ferris most obviously got the idea for their script from the Wachowski Brother's of "The matrix" fame. The only difference is that instead of entering another reality people enter the body of a robot for which they use to interact with people in the world right from their homes, never having to leave the house. These Surrogates act and talk just like their counterparts back home, linked-up in their cyber-kinetic chairs, although as you will find in the first act, don't always look like them. The entire benefit of using a surrogate is to never be hurt or killed, and also to look the way you want people to see you.

Bruce Willis and Radha Mitchell play two FBI agents investigating the destruction of two surrogates and their operators who were connected to them at the time, which up until then has never been possible. Now, I won't ruin anything, but lets just say that if you can use a surrogate to be "anyone you want to be" you might not really always know who you are talking too...or what their ulterior-motives are!!

The storytelling, twists & turns, and fast-paced action really move this film along. Also, the special effects are so well put together that when you are watching people on the screen you really believe out of this world things are happening to them...but to me the best part or character of the film is Radha Mitchell. She is required to take on so many different things here and also be believable, and she pulled it off very well indeed!

I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie and at a midnight screening as well. "Surrogates" is definitely worth seeing on the big screen, so don't miss it!
I went to an advance showing of Surrogates tonight and while it starts out a bit silly I ended up really liking it. The films strives for the mock realism of district nine but ends up falling short of that level of intensity. I have not read the graphic novel upon which the film is based, however knowing it's a multi part graphic novel is a bit odd since the film in incredibly short. I believe it clocks in at less than an hour and a half long. Rarely do I feel that the climax is reached TOO quickly in a film but everything seems to fall into place with little explanation as too how the characters know what's going on other than blind luck.

The movie sees Tom, played by Bruce Willis as a cop whose living through a surrogate. Think i-Robot but with less tension between the humans and the robots. Surrogates function in a way that humans can lie down with caps over their eyes and neurologically control attractive, boring versions of themselves. Curiously, Tom's surrogate is a cop with a blond comb over. Tom however is growing tired of relying on his surrogate. He wants to see his wife more often...his real wife.

In one of the film's many plot holes, a vagrant "meatbag" human (one who is against the idea of surrogates) uses a "device" to kill surrogates which somehow kills humans at the same time by making their brains exploded. If that sounds convoluted...that's because it is. There's many things in this film left unexplained including that aspect as well as the need for surrogates in the first place. Why bother? These thoughts are quickly erased once Tom is on a chase to find out who is trying to kill surrogates and why.

The film has a very fast pace like I said above with from the point of action to the climax very little digression. Within the title crawl you already what surrogates are, what their purpose is and the history of the surrogates. I wish they could slow down a bit and discuss more of the mentality behind the process, but I suppose that's up to the audience to decide.

Surrogates is a film that made me happy to be alive as I walked out and thought about it. It's an entertaining film but I can't help but feel that it falls into the same lines of action/drama/sci fi movies as recent ones like The Happening, I am Legend and i-Robot. It's definitely that kind of movie and if you enjoy that, then it won't disappoint.
This has to be the worst sci fi movie since Twister. I honestly cannot think of a single redeeming quality in this film. The starting premise itself was a stretch - 98% of the people in the future use surrogates. There is absolutely nothing in this world that 98% of the people agree on, not to mention a surrogate would be an expensive piece of machinery which not everyone could afford. The plot involves Bruce Willis playing a his tired "rebel-cop" persona (only looking strangely like Robbie Rotten from Lazy Town when he is in "surrogate self") and stumbling upon various conspiracies involving VSI (corporation producing surrogates), the military (of course), and the inventor of surrogates (who apparently in all his genius cannot figure an obvious explanation for his son's death and needs Bruce Willis to point it out to him). The subplot of the movie involves reservations where surrogates are not allowed and shot on sight, even if they are law enforcement surrogates. How the government decided to waive their sovereignty to a bunch of regressionist secessionists is not explained. The regressionist reservations are filled with clichéd fat hillbillies and are led by Ving Rhames with dreadlocks, who delivers his lines with a passion of a low level politician reading off a teleprompter. There are other problems that I can go into such as surrogates being strong enough to withstand collision with a car yet falling apart under the force of Bruce Willis' bare fists, as well as the non-nonsensical robot beauty salons, but if I describe every hole in the plot, I will probably have to post the entire film's screenplay. So I'll just cut to the chase: the story is absurd, the action is OK at best, the dialogue is bland in some parts, laughable in others, and the ending is meaningless.

If you want to see a decent sci fi movie, check out Pandorum instead.
One of the best CGI "upholstered" sci-fi flicks as yet. Very 80s, guess the idea (or even the entire William-Gibson-like script) slouched about for 20 years before it was realizable without appearing ridiculously B-grade. And Bruce Willis looks like Elton John for once, or vice versa :-) So much on the obvious.

Ah yeah, IMDb etiquette makes it hard to draw stringent conclusions to real occurrences, but all i can say is that if we web-nuts would turn off our machines for good, get up and simply walk outside our very flats, this world would be very different, and probably a better one, too.

Any artificial online identity, let it be 2ndlife or WOW, comprises a substantial momentum of addiction and unresistant devotion. To what? That's where this allegory jumps in quite helpfully.

We're no artificial surrogates yet, but already part of and surrounded by a more and more zombified public, where the MP3-downloads on our mobiles may actually mean more to our well-being than the unconcerned, indifferent, fear- and/or greed-powered ambition that accounts for most of our daily uprisings.

Crown of creation? Hell we are. Anyone noticed the missing comma?
Bad Sunny
Bad Sunny
Had I not known better, I would have said that the 2009 sci-fi/action film "Surrogates" was based on a work by cult author Philip K. Dick. And with its central premise of a futuristic society in which the bulk of humankind lies abed, while its mentally controlled robotic surrogates carry on the dangerous and tiring business of everyday life for it, the film really is reminiscent of something that Phil might have smiled on with approbation. But no, this picture is rather based on a graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele. In it, federal agent Tom Greer (played by a typically excellent Bruce Willis) investigates a rare instance of homicide in this new society and unearths a plot that threatens the lives of billions. The film's entirely plausible central premise (who wouldn't want to safely lie in bed all day, whilst a mechanical surrogate of any description takes upon itself the rigors of life?) has here been used as the backbone for a supremely well-crafted and intelligent instance of modern-day science fiction; indeed, "Surrogates" may well be one of the finest sci-fi films of its decade. It features a compact screenplay, a twisty and surprise-laden plot, great-looking yet restrained use of FX, and several spectacular--yet remarkably lucid--action set pieces. The film has been well acted by all, especially Willis (in what almost amounts to a dual role: human and surrogate) and the yummy Rosamund Pike, who I have had a "thang" for ever since seeing her portray Miranda Frost in Bond 20, "Die Another Day." And this near-future world, in which one can role-play any fantasy via the use of male or female surrogates, sets us up for a great line from Willis. Speaking to a beautiful female lawyer, he says, "Honey, I don't know what you are. For all I know, you could be some big fat dude sitting in a stim chair with his dick hanging out." A wonderful line, in a wonderful picture. Highly recommended.
Although it felt immensely parallel to Mark Neveldine's Gamer, Surrogates explores the scarier side of avatar life when people opt for living through robots instead of their own bodies. With the charisma and macho swagger that Bruce Willis brings to the screen and the talents of Ving Rhames, James Cromwell and Boris Kodjoe, what really ended up disappointing me was the unimpressive graphics of the Surrogates themselves. Someone should have asked Milla Jovovich who did her makeup in Resident Evil Extinction because she looked more the part of a porcelain robot than the effect they tried on this movie, it was distracting and strange.

Plot: When a couple of Surrogate (robots created to replicate human beings) users are killed through their hosts, detectives Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell) set out to find the source behind the killings. What they find is that a new weapon has been introduced that kills the host and user behind the avatar. A threat that could potentially disrupt the 99% drop in world-wide fatalities that the surrogates originally brought. Greer has grown to dislike the daily routine of living through a Surrogate and before long ditches his avatar in lieu of walking around the city as a human (something that is unheard of). With his own eyes and wits about him, Greer is able to uncover the source of the weapon and the people behind it. With his only grip on human life being his Surrogate addicted wife, he must find a way to stop the weapon which could mean danger for her and everyone in the world that is plugged in.

While I can appreciate the sci-fi element to Surrogates, it offers nothing new in terms of plot, storyline and conclusion. It is the fear of a virtual world in the future exaggerated with the visuals of nasty, sweaty, pock ridden humans stuck to their bed-like structures. A world of pasty people plugged into a machine that gives them the control of a beautiful and flawless version of themselves. You have the stereotypical fat nerd in the guise of a hot, blond sexpot, the sex heavy Club scenes and the city filled with people who aren't really people. Think Blade Runner, Matrix and I-Robot and you know the particular shot of what I speak. Yet Greer's city did not feel like a city at all, it felt like a large set with fancy CGI painted all over it to make it look "futuristic". I couldn't shake the world in a glass bowl feeling as the streets seem to lead to nowhere and the shots of the external camps looked even worse. The warm and fuzzy feelings of the future that I received when I watched older movies like Minority Report, I-Robot and the 5th Element is missing in this one. There just wasn't enough authenticity in Greer's surroundings and it made it seem so staged.

This story seemed to be better suited for a comic book or graphic novel. The big screen does not seem like the right medium for Surrogates because the humanoid CGI look is a long way from being mastered. Still, if you can stomach the visuals to follow Greer in his quest for an answer, you may find a bland and unoriginal police story that ends up being solved a bit too easily. I would suggest that you wait this one out for an evening rental with the family since the violence is minimal (the Surrogates bleed green), there are no real sexual situations and the length is relatively short. I cannot recommend the box office version of this movie.

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Expensive but dull, sterile sci-fi adaptation of the graphic novels by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele concerns remote-controlled androids of the future, developed to obliterate crime in society, that are mysteriously being 'murdered'. These incidents, however baffling, should not being causing harm to the very-human "surrogate" owners, but is resulting in their deaths as well. Two FBI agents smell a rat, particularly when one of the dead units is discovered to belong to the son of the reclusive doctor responsible for inventing surrogates. Top-heavy with gadgetry, this lumbering thriller seems plastic and embalmed...what can you say about a movie so humorless that it adds in a belching technician just to rouse its audience? Bruce Willis, as both the head Fed and his lookalike surrogate (with a blond weave!), looks exhausted. Mechanically directed by Jonathan Mostow, who paces the conversational scenes like episodes from a TV detective series. Anything but entertaining. * from ****
Science fiction is often used to illustrate current problems. So, this movie seems to be a modern retelling of the story of the land of Cockaigne. And like the medieval stories it heavy-handedly drives home the lesson about the Land of Plenty being a blessing and a curse.

To start with, I liked the visual style, how the Surrogates look all polished and seem to correspond to how people would like to see themselves. I also liked the idea of anonymity, that - like Internet avatars - a Surrogate could be anyone and gives you no clue as to who is operating it. Interesting as these premises may be they quickly fell apart. There are so many things that do not seem to make sense, even within the plot's own world.

Without giving away too much here are a few points that may also occur to you during the early parts of the film.

  • If people depend on their Surrogates for everything, even household tasks, and hardly go out anymore why do their muscles not completely atrophy? Haven't they watched Wall-E?

  • How could this advanced robotic technology and neural interfaces (Surrogates are thought controlled) have been developed within 14 years (as stated in the opening) and have become so cheap that the average Joe or Jane can afford them? And if so why is this technology not used for controlling other machines?

  • Logically, for every new development there are those that oppose it. I thought they would be like everyone else just that they reject Surrogate technology. Why would they look like survivors of an apocalypse, live in abandoned building compounds, seemingly also reject all other technology and also be armed to the teeth and ready to go to war?

  • And why does the main character have to be coping with some family tragedy only to illustrate that using Surrogates is bad for you?

This was the list after about 20% of the film. Sadly it did not get any better. The science fiction setting has not been thought through. The murder mystery tries half-heartedly to be complex but offers few surprises and fails to deliver as little as a plausible motive. Characters just find clues because they do. In the end there is not even enough sci-fi action to support the film since Bruce Willis is not the youngest anymore and also plays a character who is very vulnerable among all the robots. Wait, does that not sound familiar? Actually, quite a number of elements seem to have been lifted straight from I, Robot. The inventor of the robots is even played by the same actor. Maybe that is it: go watch I, Robot instead.