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FBI agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) lives in a world where robotic surrogates stand in for people, protecting them from violence, contagion—and the appearance of aging. These picture perfect, real-life avatars—fit, good-looking, remotely controlled machines that assume their operator’s life role—enable the population to experience life vicariously from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Greer and his partner, Agent Peters (Radha Mitchell), are called in to probe the mysterious death of a college student, whose life ended when his surrogate was destroyed. When Greer’s surrogate is damaged in the investigation, he ventures out of his apartment for the first time in decades. In a world of masks, Greer must decide who is real and who can be trusted.
The basic concept that the movie builds itself upon is that in the very near future we will be able to buy robots that not only look and feel human, but that we can control as well. Humans, according to the film, will choose to live their lives via these robots which are known as surrogates, people will sit at home all day long and let these surrogates go to work for them, relax for them, buy clothes for them, do everything for them.
Bruce Willis, as one might expect, plays the main FBI agent on the case. Tom Greer (Willis) quickly finds himself caught up in a world of secrets and lies, one where the military, the federal government, and the company which created the surrogates have all been keeping secrets. He must figure out whether it was Lionel Canter (James Cromwell), the inventor of surrogates; the leader of the anti-surrogate group, The Prophet (Ving Rhames); the current corporate bosses at VSI, the company that makes surrogates; or someone else behind the device and the murder.
The film is far better in its smaller moments, when it focuses on Greer’s personal life and the disconnect he has with his wife, Maggie (Roasmund Pike). The couple have lost their son in an accident and have done a relatively poor job of holding their marriage together. Maggie has trouble living with her actual body in the real world following the incident, choosing to insulate herself from possible pain instead.
The extra features on the new Blu-ray release include deleted scenes and a featurette which looks at how close we are scientifically to being able to create surrogates (it too fails to make a compelling case for why society as a whole would choose to live that way). There is also a piece on how the graphic novel the film is based came about and eventually made it to the big screen; a music video, “I Will Not Bow,” by Breaking Benjamin, and an audio commentary track by Mostow.
The Blu-ray release features an impressive 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Some of the action sequences are overly loud, but those same scenes also feature great bass, and superb use of the surrounds. Dialogue doesn’t suffer even in the loud scenes – it feels as though the dialogue has been goosed equally with the effects. With the amount of detail and clearness of the image, it is easy to pick the surrogate out of the crowd (the surrogates have a plastic-y sheen to them). The level of detail extends beyond faces however, and the image features a great deal of depth and good black levels.
Mostow may have created a beautiful world with Surrogates, and he may do quite well in general at depicting robots covered with real and/or fake skin, but what he hasn’t done here is to create a future that is in any way believable. Only a fool would think that science and technology did not have the potential to become a burden, and because of that it seems highly unlikely that humanity would ever wish to follow down the road Mostow and company have laid out in the film
Surrogates on DVD includes:
Commentary with director Jonathan Mostow
· “I Will Not Bow” Music Video by Breaking Benjamin
The Surrogates Blu-ray contains the DVD extras plus exclusive bonus features that go into the heart of the film’s intriguing premise:
· A More Perfect You: The Science of Surrogates — The world of surrogates is not far away! Mind-controlled robotics is already in use in today. This featurette explores the realities of this technology and offers an in-depth look into the creation of the superhuman versions of the cast created for this film.
· Breaking the Frame: A Graphic Novel Comes to Life — A visual exploration of the evolution of Surrogates from graphic novel to major motion picture from the earliest designs and sketches. Pivotal sequences come to life in a dazzling 3-D animated experience.
Four Deleted Scenes