Sunday, 28 February 2010


Available on DVD and Blu-ray March 4
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

2009 was a very good year for sci-fi films – Star Trek, District 9, Moon and, of course, Avatar – so it's of little surprise that amongst these box office champs and critical faves, Surrogates may have been overlooked or forgotten.

And while it doesn't reach the heights of the aforementioned titles, Surrogates is by no means a bad film. Indeed, like the best sci-fi, it raises questions about the human condition, in this instance our ever increasing submergence into a virtual world.

Set in the not-too-distant future where technology has become so advanced robots have been developed that are remote controlled via human thought from the safety of the operator's home. In computer gaming these robots would be called avatars but I'm guessing another filmmaker had that name copyrighted before Jonathan Mostow's film got greenlit.

So here they are called surrogates, and they're not blue skinned but look however their operators want them too, which usually means younger, prettier and thinner than themselves. And in some cases, the opposite sex or a different race.

But when a weapon, able to destroy the surrogates and kill their human operators simultaneously, is deployed, it is revealed that all is not well in this utopia. FBI agents Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell) are assigned the case and when Greer's surrogate (smooth skinned and a bad hairpiece) is destroyed, Greer himself, looking worse for wear, ventures out into the real world to locate the weapon and avert a major metldown.

Willis's tough guy persona is understandably toned down a little here, as Greer has been physically inactive for some time. But Greer is also in mourning for the loss of his young son in a road accident, and the loss of his wife, Maggie (Rosamund Pike), to the addictive surrogacy technology. He pines for the days of human touch.

At just 85 minutes, Surrogates is perhaps too brief to fully explore at any great length all the ideas its premise presents but is does pose the question: are we too reliant on virtual living? Perhaps you should ponder this once you turn your computer off and go for a walk in the real world (after you finish reading this blog, of course).

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