Upon leafing through the press notes of Surrogates, I was not surprised to see it was based on a graphic novel. The shock set in when I realized the date in which it was written – 2006. Really?
Though the themes that are dealt with are certainly timely, the overall use of technology in “the future” seems so… 1980s.
Set the presumably not-too-distant future, Surrogates envisions a world in which mechanical alter-egos have gone from completing minor tasks and duties for mankind, to being a stand-in for our everyday activities. Though these 'bots are no mere duplications, rather they are lifelike avatars, free of wrinkles, pimples or cellulite, and possessing superhuman agility and a rather disturbing waxy finish.
Bruce Willis stars as FBI Agent Greer, on the case of surrogate slaughter, when a few androids have been fried by a special laser that actually toasts the hosts who are controlling them from the comfort of their Barcaloungers.
The case brings the jaded agent out of the comfort of his second skin and into the world of these replicants where he must not only re-acclimate himself, but must also face the creator of these robotic representations (played by James Cromwell). But even as the film unfolds like a pulpy detective tale, there are one too many stumbling blocks that keeps Surrogates feeling as false as the paranoid androids that make up the film's populace.
There are the little things that may serve to pick the nits of techno-nerds such as myself, like the fact that science has developed the technology to give humans completely lifelike robotic duplicates, (albeit stronger and sexier), and yet we are still using flip-open cell phones? And keyboards with a mouse? And you are going to tell me that Willis' character had the opportunity to recreate himself however he wanted, and he decided on hair that looks like a tidal wave of peroxide cresting on his forehead? Perhaps these are minor gripes, but for a technology-dominated future, these little tics add up to make the film feel as advanced as a Commodore 64.