By Brian Orndorf
Director Jonathan Mostow has never offended me as a filmgoer. His pictures have been routinely well constructed and visually interesting (â€œTerminator 3,â€ â€œU-571,â€ â€œBreakdownâ€), even in the face of underwhelming plots and misguided performances. â€œSurrogatesâ€ is undoubtedly a misfire for the filmmaker, but itâ€™s an interesting failure, peppered with a few memorable sequences and an appropriate, timely message highlighting the acceleration of social disconnect. While ambitious, the rhythm is off on this limping picture, with the fingerprints of severe studio interference smudging up the movie from the start.
In the future, society will employ the use of Surrogates, robotic avatars that are sent out into the word to conduct daily business. They are the ideal version of the user, with smooth looks and near indestructibility. When an important Surrogate is killed with a special military weapon, F.B.I. Agent Greer (Bruce Willis) is sent in to investigate. Finding the trail of clues leading to a community of human beings who choose to live life with their own flesh and blood, overseen by the influential Prophet (Ving Rhames), Agent Greer enters their forbidden city, only to watch his Surrogate destroyed. Now without his buffer to the outside world, Agent Greer is forced to interact with a menacing Surrogate population, including his estranged wife, Maggie (Rosamund Pike).
Adapted from 2006 graphic novel, â€œThe Surrogates,â€ the feature film realization preserves a distinctly illustrated quality to the material, keeping a tone of page-turning mystery and flashy sci-fi discovery. Itâ€™s a handsome picture, photographed sharply and brimming with curious fantasy touches sold well by the numerous special effects, with the centerpiece being the network of Surrogates. Chillingly dead-eyed machines with vivid features and silky skin, the Surrogates generate the tension and mystery of the piece, and Mostow juggles the balance between robotic advancement and emotional distance soundly, laying on the technological detachment theme thick, but effectively. When all is lost in the film (and it unravels eventually), the design and execution of the Surrogate figures remain visually stimulating to the end.
The confidential weapon capable of slaughtering Surrogates is the major question mark of the film, but the mystery surrounding the gun and its various owners is never massaged hard enough to reach critical mass. Instead the feature jumps from turn to turn, suggesting that â€œSurrogatesâ€ was trimmed heavily on its way to the multiplex. While filled with colorful characters with plenty on their minds, the story has been pared down to the bare essentials of action and whodunit. Thereâ€™s not much room to breathe here, highlighted uncomfortably in the relationship between Greer and Maggie. A married couple unable to cope with the tragic loss of their young son, the pair has taken to Surrogacy to numb the pain. Itâ€™s a plotline that appears integral to the overall story, but all thatâ€™s left in â€œSurrogatesâ€ are melodramatic fragments that are poorly finessed into the film, again suggesting cold studio hands restructured the plot without Mostowâ€™s cooperation, leaving turbulent waves of emotion behind, absent the necessary, gentle context.
Bruce Willis looks a little bored here at times and is miscast as the baffled hero. Thankfully heâ€™s surrounded by a fine supporting cast (including Radha Mitchell and Buzz from â€œHome Aloneâ€ himself, Devin Ratray, here as a slob F.B.I. tech wizard) who seem to be enjoying the Surrogate fantasy and futureworld trimmings. â€œSurrogatesâ€ is short (85 minutes) and fails to land a killing blow that pays off the simplified mystery with any distinct urgency. Itâ€™s a flawed film, but far from unbearable. Nothing a DVD directorâ€™s cut couldnâ€™t fix.
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Against the Current - the band, not adventures in dangerous swimming 101
Zedd - If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy? (Well, answer my question!)
Arrow (Okay, Felicity from Arrow!)
Chrissy Costanza (cat eyes and buttery lyrics!)
Girls (TV) (Okay, Allison Williams!)
Movies - especially when they play in the dark.
Twin Peaks (TV)
Friends (TV) (It had me at "No way are you cool enough to pull Clint"; damn straight, Chandler!)
Traveling - preferably where water is, so I can splash someone!
Star Wars trilogy - no, the other one, fella!
Alex G - far more talented than her younger brother Alex H
Cameron Crowe movies - Say Anything..., Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous
The sign 'Free Wi-Fi'.
Reenacting dance/song scenes from "Grease" with my little girl (hey! Wait till you see my 'Summer Lovin'! - don't judge)
Die Hard - 40 stories of Sheer Adventure!
Alex Goot & Friends (his enemies aren't half as talented!)
Cooking up a nice dish and sitting in the entertainment area, on a cool night, basking in it's greatness.
Inflatable kids pools full of Vodka Lime Crush.
Acidic Email from angry, over passionate teenagers after I trash something "Twilight"-related on the site. Sparkle elsewhere.
My baby girl's big, caring heart.