Moviegoers expecting Surrogates to be the last action-packed hoorah before this blockbuster season ends will be sorely disappointed, as the most entertaining part of movie will be the previews beforehand.
The premise of Surrogates starts out well enough. In the year 2017, humanity has been largely reduced to a bunch of pajama-wearing recluses due to the invention of surrogates: robot bodies that are remotely controlled by their owners' thoughts. Everyday life can be safely and satisfyingly experienced from the comfort of home thanks to these beautiful, undying proxies.
When two "users" are actually killed while plugged into their surrogate units, however, FBI agent Harvey Greer (Bruce Willis) and his partner, Jennifer Peters (Radha Mitchell), arrive to investigate the mystery.
It sounds interesting, doesn't it? But what should have been an engaging science fiction commentary on humanity's abuse of technology and our increasing lack of interpersonal relationships quickly descends into a mind-numbingly monotonous mystery-suspense story that fails to garner any anticipation or shock from its audience.
The slender 89-minute run time actually manages to drag on: Greer shows up somewhere, makes some humdrum revelation about the case, gets beaten up and has an emotional confrontation with his wife. Rinse and repeat. Despite being spearheaded by Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines director Jonathan Mostow, there are few flashy action sequences to break up the boredom.
Nevertheless, credit is due where credit is earned and there is something to be said about the caliber of Surrogates' actors. The surrogates' sleek, unnatural perfection is portrayed so convincingly that there are times when you forget that humans, not computer-generated figures or dolls, are playing these roles. While the surrogates are stunning at first, after 20 minutes all of their loveliness blurs together and viewers will begin to truly notice, if not appreciate, the flawed allure that "genuine" humans beings possess when they finally appear onscreen.
Sadly, Surrogates does not do itself, or its actors, justice and the thought-provoking, action-oriented sci-fi flick of this season was, hands-down, District 9. If the movie had fewer plot threads and instead took the time to develop its characters and the world they inhabit, it might have had a chance.
If any of your friends are just dying to see this mess of a film, my advice to you: send a surrogate.