Is there anything Bruce Willis can't make cool? All he has to do is cock that brow, squint those eyes, or wield a gun to transform us all into putty. Even his scabs and scars look cool. In his latest starring role as unsettled FBI agent Greer in Jonathan Mostow's 'Surrogates', Willis runs, jumps, and sidles through the movie like we so want him to.

'Surrogates' is classic sci-fi fare - that is, it plays on our worst fears about technology and robotics taking over our daily existence - and borrows freely from other established films of the genre. Though not done purposefully, it seems like some scenes were cribbed from 'I, Robot', 'Blade Runner', and 'The Matrix' trilogy. In some segments, I half-expected Keanu Reeves' Neo to emerge from the rubble muttering, "There is no spoon."



Is there anything Bruce Willis can't make cool? All he has to do is cock that brow, squint those eyes, or wield a gun to transform us all into putty. In his latest starring role as unsettled FBI agent Greer in Jonathan Mostow's 'Surrogates', Willis runs, jumps, and sidles through the movie like we so want him to.

'Surrogates' is classic sci-fi fare - that is, it plays on our worst fears about technology and robotics taking over our daily existence - and borrows freely from other established films of the genre. Though not done purposefully, it seems like some scenes were cribbed from 'I, Robot', 'Blade Runner', and 'The Matrix' trilogy. In some segments, I half-expected Keanu Reeves' Neo to emerge from the rubble muttering, "There is no spoon."

Right from the beginning, Willis' character Greer seems unhappy, both at his job and at home. Set in a parallel present, the world's citizens no longer walk the streets. Instead, almost everyone has a 'surry' (a surrogate), which is essentially an android body that can be made to look like anything they desire. So if someone's insecure about their weight or appearance, they can modify their surry to look however they want.

To boot, sending a surry out into the world is a lot safer than wandering out yourself. As a result, most of humanity stays at home lying down in a reclined chair, living vicariously via computer through their surry. Greer grows tired of this sorta-living and his separation from his wife Maggie (played passively by Rosamund Pike), whose rabid addiction to surry living has begun to affect their marriage. The couple also refuses to deal with the death of their son, which is dealt with in the film as an afterthought, and isn't fully explained.

In classic Willis fashion, Greer seeks to bring down the (of course) corrupt VMI Industries, the makers of the surrogates. What's unexpected in this movie is the exploration of issues that currently plague humanity - notably our descent into technology dependence. Most jarring is a scene where all the surrogates simultaneously disconnect and fall to the ground, leaving only the real humans standing, bewildered and confused in their pajamas. Imagine if all the wi-fi in the world went down? No internet? The horror!

Another commendable aspect of the film is the make-up and special effects, which impressed at every turn. A heavily-caked Willis surrogate is easily discernable from the real Willis (other than by the blond toupee), and the stone-faced droids are both creepy and convincing. It makes one re-contemplate their desire for robot butlers.

For an action film, this one's a thinker and a pleasant surprise, especially considering all the non-sensical explosion collections that posed as movies this past summer.

Three stars.
CATEGORIES Reviews