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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Lazy Me
by Betty Jo Tucker

Surrogates, a new sci-fi movie starring Bruce Willis, failed to live up to expectations, but my imagination has been running wild ever since seeing it. I want a surrogate of my own now. Who wouldn’t like to sit back and unleash a robot -- designed to your physical specifications -- that could run errands and do everything else for you? Your surrogate doesn’t have to look like you, just pick the appearance you want. My choice would be Angelina Jolie. And why stop at one surrogate? You could have others, each with a different look, if you have enough money to afford such luxury.

As depicted in Surrogates, hardly anyone in the future wants to go through life without a surrogate of their own. That’s not surprising, is it? We are already heavily plugged into cyberspace and TV, resulting in some unhealthy repercussions -- but none as dire as the problem faced by Greer (Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell), two law-enforcement officers investigating the deaths of individuals while using the surrogate system. The film’s simple plot involves finding out who caused these deaths and why. Suspects include: Stone (Boris Kadjoe), a police supervisor; The Prophet (Ving Rhames), an anti-machine religious leader; Bobby (Devin Ratray), a nerdy systems operator; and Canter (James Cromwell), the surrogate inventor.

Because it’s easy to spot the culprit early on, suspense gets short shrift here. Now that is surprising, for director Jonathan Mostow delivered uber-suspense in Breakdown and U-571. And this Michael Ferris/John Brancato adaptation of the graphic novel seems a bit bland to me. But their screenplay for Catwoman ended up as a disaster for Halle Berry, so I should have remembered that.  I’m also disappointed in the movie’s lack of character development (okay -- I know what you’re thinking -- do surrogates need character?), although Willis shows a glimmer of it in scenes with his wife and her surrogate (Rosamund Pike).

On the plus side, Surrogates boasts a few exciting visuals, including a brief surrogate factory shot and an action-packed car chase through heavy traffic. Ratray (absolutely wonderful in Courting Condi) also livens things up with his character’s explanation of why he doesn’t use a surrogate, which reminds us how much of our humanity we lose when leaving everything to machines.  

Still, until my own surrogate arrives, I’ll probably spend most of my time plugged-in to Rosebud -- my computer -- a machine with no resemblance to Angelina Jolie at all.   

(Released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and rated “PG-13” for intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, language, sexuality and a drug-related scene.)

For more information about Surrogates, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or the Rotten Tomatoes website.     

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