Surrogates (DVD)

Surrogates is the kind of film that will make you think you've spent a worthwhile 85 minutes (excluding credits) on a rainy afternoon when you've got nothing better to do. It's by no means a great film, but it's an interesting sci-fi venture low-brow enough to be perfectly understandable and entertaining.

It is 2017, and technology has enabled humanity to essentially hand over all our imperfections and become totally housebound in order to live our lives through the eyes of custom-made android avatars that we can plug in and out of as we wish. In the style of The Matrix, where people enter and exit the alternate reality from the comfort (or lack thereof) of a chair, these robotic surrogates allow people to live life just how they want to, and in the form they've always desired to have themselves. But - and of course, there's always a but - someone is eliminating surrogates in a way that kills the people who control them, and that's where FBI Agent Grier (Bruce Willis) gets involved, to kick some arse, in both human and surrogate form.

Surrogates, adapted from a series of graphic novels, is an intriguing idea, but one so expansive that all the details you may or may not think of as you view the film simply don't add up. If you really put your mind to it, the film has more holes in it than the Titanic, which is why you need to put on your dunce hat and pretend to be inept for its slim running time in order to enjoy it, which truly isn't difficult, because, well, it's got Bruce Willis in it. Bruce's brilliantly worn face that still makes him a believable action star in this day and age is split between Agent Grier and Willis' own surrogate. The android version of Bruce – his vision of a perfect him – has a full head of hair and not a wrinkle in sight. I must say it is kind of hard to take the android Bruce seriously with all that digitally-airbrushed skin, which makes him look like Action Man, rather than action star. Speaking of action, what there is of it fails to pull much of a punch and seems very reminiscent of I, Robot and Terminator 3, which is by the film's own director.

All in all, Surrogates is a filmic oxymoron, it's intelligently dumb with a smartarse sci-fi plot that you will eventually outsmart as it pans out. Just sit back and relax and get it into your head that you're about to watch a slick 85 minutes of Bruce Willis thunder and lightning that has no fat, and hopefully then you will enjoy it.

EXTRAS * Just an audio commentary by director Jonathan Mostow and the music video for I Will Not Bow by the brilliant Breaking Benjamin.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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