Opening 21 Jan 2010
Writing credits: Michael Ferris, John D. Brancato, Robert Venditti, Brett Weldele
Principal actors: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Cromwell
This fast-paced, action-packed sci-fi thriller makes use of every celluloid minute by interspersing chronological storyline information in between the opening credits. Called to a homicide in a future world that is 99% crime free, the amazement of FBI agents Thomas Greer (Bruce Willis) and Jennifer Peters (Radha Mitchell) increases when they discover one victim is the son of billionaire genius Dr. Lionel Canter (James Cromwell), the Father of Surrogacy. Canter, a recluse with a debilitating illness and confined to a wheelchair, experimented initially to find help for himself; that begot the surrogate phenomenon. Unflawed robotic versions of people, e.g., younger, sexier, taller, shorter, different nationality/gender, the surrogate exists in society while its human sits in a “stim chair” living vicariously from the comfort and security of his own home. Disenfranchised citizens fighting against these avatars are called “Dreads” and live on reservations where, e.g., in Boston, The Prophet (Ving Rhames) calls the shots. When local thug Miles Strickland (Jack Noseworthy) kills five policemen and runs to the “The Reservation,” Greer is forced to discard his surrogate to uncover the crux of the matter.
As Greer and Peters probe, they uncover a massive conspiracy that endangers everyone, including Greer’s wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike) – this has become very personal. Now to convince FBI Supervisor Andrew Stone (Boris Kodjoe) there is a scheme that concerns the conglomerate V.S.I. and will involve, in order to enter a reservation, the military under Colonel Brendon (Michael Cudlitz). But whom do you trust? The human Greer says, “Honey, I don’t know what you are. For all I know you could be some big fat dude sitting in a chair with your dick hanging out.”
Guided by director Jonathan Mostow, with John Brancato and Michael Ferris’s screenplay and based on Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele’s popular, inventive Top Shelf Comix graphic novel, Surrogates is an efficiently crafted film with plot twists up to the very end. Veterans Oliver Wood, cinematographer, and Kevin Stitt, film editor, keep an eye on the details, along with four Oscar® winners: visual effects supervisor Mark Stetson, makeup artists Howard Berger and Jeff Dawn, and sound designer Jon Johnson.
Although not a new premise, with most people glued to their cell phones, emails, BlackBerries, the Internet, computers etc., this film strikes a chord. Especially when you learn that in researching current technology, the scripters Brancato and Ferris found a scientist in Osaka, Japan, Hiroshi Ishiguro, who with the aid of a plastic version of himself, lectures around the world without leaving his office. And in North Carolina a rhesus monkey wired to a robot in Kyoto makes it walk, merely by thinking. Set your technological appendages aside and go have a good time. (Marinell Haegelin)