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Surrogates (DVD, 2010)
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Murder by Surrogate
Sep 28, 2009 (Updated Feb 4, 2010)
Review by Mark Baker
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Great story and some very cool special effects...
Cons:...which dominate, leaving the characters and theme underdeveloped.
The Bottom Line: If the movie had put more effort into the characters and theme, it would have been a home run.
I'm not sure why I tend to write off sci-fi. When I do go, I tend to enjoy it. So it was that I let myself get talked into seeing Surrogates. After all, it was a mystery and science fiction combined. (Which is why it didn't take much to get me to go.) I'm not sure if I was expecting a little too much out of it or not, but it turned out to be a disappointment for me.
Recommend this product?
Our story takes place in a world where almost all people live their lives through robots. These surrogates are completely controllable through sensory controls. And the humans never have to leave their homes to live a full, rich life. After all, if your surrogate dies, you just need to buy a new one.
Canter (James Francis Gintv) is a college student taking a break and visiting Boston. Outside a club, he and his new pickup are stunned by an electric gadget. Since crime of all kinds has been virtually eliminated, this is shocking.
Enter FBI agents Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell). As they begin tracking down the killer, they discover that the hosts of these two surrogates have been killed as well. Plus, Canter was the son of Dr. Canter (James Cromwell), the inventor of surrogates. Could one of the cells of human hold outs be behind this horrid crime? Or is something more sinister at work here?
As a mystery, this story was rather good. There were some obvious plot elements, but a few twists caught me off guard as well. The final twists were a little rushed, and I had to sort through who did what to whom and why after the movie was over. Additionally, the climax left us with a major plot hole (I'm not going to spoil). It seems like the villain could have gone about the plan in a completely different way. But maybe that's just me.
The visual style of this film was perfect. The surrogates looked porcelain and a little too perfect, while the humans looked just a little too run down. But that was intention as it helped differentiate the two and it worked in on the theme of just how fake everything had become.
I was surprised to find this movie wasn't loaded with special effects, but those that were here were certainly great. There's a jaw dropping car accident early on. The surrogates have super human capabilities, and those scenes were always fun to watch.
The acting was fine as well. Everyone in the cast played their part to the best of their abilities.
The problem is the script didn't give them much to work with. There were several attempts at character development that felt all too familiar. Worse yet, those bits of background never went anywhere. I left the theater feeling dissatisfied, and it took me a while to figure out that was why. The plot was so much the focus that the characters never truly became real.
And maybe that's why I felt the theme was underdeveloped as well. Yes, we get the point - living through surrogates isn't really living. But despite some obvious scenes setting that up early on as Bruce Willis' character is begging for some real human interaction, it's never fully paid off. I don't need a big speech to drive the point home (in fact, I would rather hope the writers would avoid that, too). But idea is just something else that is introduced early and never paid off in the end.
Yes, I'm glad I went to see Surrogates. If you are interested, I would recommend you see it. But don't go see it expecting more than a fun plot and a few cool special effects. The emphasis on those left the movie with no heart.
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