Friday, October 9, 2009

Movie Menage: Surrogates

Sometimes the Reel Whore likes a little company in the dark of the theater. Though the interwebs bring us closer, us reviewers cannot always bed down together for a post. With the Movie Menage, I surreptitiously pluck a couple of reviews from fellow LAMBs and other film bloggers. These brief blurbs coupled with the Reel Whore take constitute a critique à trois, if you will. Getting three opinions of a film tossed together should be better than one, right?

Release: 09.25.09
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 44 minutes
Second-Run Seats

The year is 2017. Most of humanity has withdrawn into their homes, choosing to live their lives via a surrogate; an interactive robot that has been designed to be whatever the operator wishes. Two such surrogates, Detective Tom Greer (Bruce Willis, The Jackal) and his partner Peters (Radha Mitchell, Phone Booth), are called in to investigate a vandalism case involving two surrogates. Following the clues, Greer and Peters discover the destruction of these two robots simultaneously caused their operators' deaths. This leads Greer to venture out into the world, sans-surrie, not knowing the responsibility to stop an apocalyptic plot rests in his human hands.

The first of our lovers trio:

... There's not an easier way for a film set in the future to bother me than to not pay attention to the cars on the road. Surrogates is set in 2017 (according to Wikipedia, which is odd, because I swear that title cards said "14 years from now"). and yet everyone's driving 2009 Toyota Priuses and 2009 Chevy Cobalts and sh*t. WTF? So, super-advanced robotic technology will have worked its way to photo realism in 8 years (and crime will vanish), but we'll all still be driving our cars from today (which look brand new eight years from now, too)? Really?

See Fletch blow his full load.

Joining in the fun is our second partner:

... Pseudo-Bruce (Bruce Willis’ surrogate) is chasing a real human who committed a crime. Pseudo-Bruce’s helicopter crashes and explodes and his arm gets torn off, but it’s Pseudo-Bruce so it’s no big deal. So he gets up and shakes it off in time for a pick up truck to smash into him. It will take more than that to take down Pseudo-Bruce because his operator Bruce Willis is a super bad ass. The truck barely slowed him down, so a woman shot him in the chest with a shot gun. Then, since apparently they’ve seen Bruce’s previous work, they hung Pseudo-Bruce on a cross that said, “Die Robot Pig!” That finally took care of Pseudo-Bruce, but then the real Bruce came after them. Dum dum dum.

If you like it rough, Action Flick Chick is waiting.

Surrogates is loosely (and I mean loosely) based on the graphic novel of the same name by Robert Venditti. I had the chance to meet Venditti this summer and briefly talk about his success story. He was very excited that his first project had been optioned, but being his first, the decisions were in the hands of the movie wizards. Still, he couldn't ask for a better opportunity to get his name in lights. Having now seen the movie, his comments make so much more sense; the movie is only a shadow of his original concept.

My major complaint is that surrogacy becomes integral to society within the next decade; highly implausible. Most likely this decision was made to spare money on developing a futuristic setting. Venditti set his world in 2054. The world was not a utopia and crime was still a major issue. The key difference between the novel and the film is that the book defines the shift in crime from physical harm to property destruction. That's just the tip of the divergence iceberg.

As for Surrogates the movie, the makeup was awesome. I had forgotten how hot Radha Mitchell is, but they did a great job of uglying her up when needed. Pseudo-Bruce was slightly off-looking, but good ol' Bruised Willis was as ornery as ever. I just wished he'd been surly enough to bash in a few more surrie skulls. The most exciting scenes were Pseudo-Bruce and Pseudo-Radha hopscotch shipping containers and atop cars in two different chase scenes.

Aside from those few thrilling moments, Bruised mainly wanders around lost instead of cracking heads and one-liners. Unless you wish to join Bruised's perplexed perambulation, I suggest you resist pondering the plot logistics too thoroughly. Surrogates is a good way to pass an afternoon, but don't be surprised if you've forgotten most of it by the credits' end.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. Woohoo! I got menaged! Thanks for the shout, and for the line "see Fletch blow his full load," a line not likely to be printed ever again.

    I think you dug this a bit more than me, but it's not the worst way to spend an afternoon. Your major complaint is dead on; the budget couldn't have been that low. Would it have been that hard to set it later and make it easier to swallow (and get some future cars in there, too)?

    I had forgotten Radha was in it until they showed the ugly version of her. Probably because that's more the way I think of her. Nice job pretty-ing her up, I guess.

  2. Burn!
    I don't think Radha is ugly, but I have trouble remembering her face. I used to have the same problem with Naomi Watts.

  3. I am a sucker for sci-fi films but money is tight right now so I might have to wait for Surrogates on DVD.

  4. @Fletch: I'm with the wife. Radha isn't ugly, just forgettable like Naomi Watts.

    Bruce movies tend to get a weighted average from me. As long as his busts a few heads or jokes I'm happy.

    @Film-Book: You'll be fine to wait for DVD. This'll probably be out in time for Christmas!

  5. Holy crap. This is the best feature ever.

  6. Saw Surrogates. Glad I did not pay to see it. I did like certain aspects of the film.

    The Surrogates would cost millions of dollars a piece. There is no way ordinary people would ever be able to afford them. Please.

  7. Yeah, that price tag is a major sticking point. Maybe that's why people aren't driving newer cars, they spent their cash on Surrogates, haha.

    That's why I like the book. It takes place a good 30-40 years in the future so you can imagine costs and advances have made it more plausible for widespread ownership.

  8. I looked for a free copy of the book online. Have not found one yet.

  9. Can't help you there. I bought mine from Venditti at a Con. He did throw in a couple of free kids comics in the deal. :-)

  10. Do worry about it. The story line is not that compelling.

    I would rather read I Am Legend again.