Science fiction film set in a future where humans live in the safe solitude of their own homes whilst communicating through robots acting as surrogates. The robots not only carry out the lives of the humans, they also look like them with an enhanced physical appearance. Bruce Willis stars as FBI Agent Greer who assigns his own surrogate to help him inspect the murder of a college student with links to the creator of the surrogates. As the complexity of the case intensifies, however, the reclusive detective realises that in order to have a chance of catching the killer he must brave the outside world, leaving the safety of his own home. With the help of Agent Peters (Radha Mitchell), Agent Greer attempts to track down the killer and uncover the intrigue surrounding the surrogate facade.
Intriguingly scaled more along the lines of a good sci-fi short story than a steroid-enhanced action picture, Surrogates
proposes a variation on spectatorship-run-amok. In the near future, human beings need no longer leave their homes: mechanical surrogates, similar in appearance (but younger looking, fitter, with fewer wrinkles and more hair) can move about in the world on the user's behalf, following commands and absorbing physical wear and tear. A cop (Bruce Willis) begins investigating a mystifying case of a user who died when his surrogate got blasted by a fancy ray-gun in the street--that's a definite violation of the company guarantee. In the course of a trim, sub-90-minute running time, the Willis character himself is forced to enter the mean streets in his own flesh-and-blood version, not his surrogate, a move that puzzles both his wife (Rosamund Pike) and partner (Radha Mitchell). In the movie's scheme of perfect surrogates and digitally-smoothed faces, the grizzled humanity of Bruce Willis comes blazing through; what a relief to see a battered human in the midst of the beautiful people. Director Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3) gets the world right, but one waits in vain for a fuller picture of the effects of this surrogate population, or a deeper study of the creator (James Cromwell) of the technology, or a reason to get involved in the rebel leader (Ving Rhames in a fright wig) and his reservation populated by defiant non-surrogates. Sprinting along as it does, Surrogates doesn't find time for these presumably crucial details, and the result feels a little skin-deep. --Robert Horton