Imagine living inside your mind and taking that a step further by having a robot live out that pseudo reality on a daily basis. That’s what Surrogates plays out, taking the concept of incubated human beings and harvesting their minds (The Matrix) and combining it with living robots (I, Robot). These robots, through mind control by individuals, go to work, have a social life, live out fantasies (which begs the question, “Is it considered cheating on your spouse if your surrogate is doing it?”). These surrogate robots are tailored fit to whatever the user wants them to look like; for many it’s a younger, model version of them, and for others it’s a completely opposite persona and gender altogether. The environment is filled with mannequin-perfect models walking and talking the lives of their users.
Life goes on smoothly in this pseudo reality for FBI agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis, whose surrogate is an eerily photoshopped version of himself) and his wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike), who drops further into the illusionary abyss, until a series of murders threatens the existence of their way of life. Agent Greer finds himself without his surrogate and is forced to live out the investigation on his own two feet with the help of agent Peter (Radha Mitchell). All the players, including head agent Stone (Boris Kodjoe, whose surrogate looks more of his real self than its user) are all surrogates, easily manipulated and potential portals of death for their controllers.
Amidst the glamorous utopia, there are obvious omissions to daily life. Where are all the children and senior citizens? Can you imagine the world filled with the manifestation of undeveloped minds of children? What happens to the mentally disabled who don’t have the capacity to control their minds much less their surrogates? What of the psychotic criminals? Sure, the crime rate has dropped dramatically in this utopia under the assumption that everyone is fulfilled and life is copacetic. Yet there is the community of “unwanted people” known as the Dreads, headed by the Prophet (Ving Rhames) who becomes an unexpected revelation in the storyline.
This film is visually stunning, with its blockbuster sci-fi backdrop and what looks to be detailed photo-editing for those mannequin-like features of the surrogates. Action packed – the surrogates can fly and do inhumanly stunts – it keeps you in suspense, trying to unravel the mystery behind the surrogate killings. The buildup reaches to the ultimate climax which mandates the decision of “to push the button or not.” It’s a great film if you don’t think too much about it; otherwise there’s too much incongruity for that surrogate utopia to happen in your mind. If anything, it’s worth seeing in action Bruce Willis in a blond wig and mannequinesque Boris Kodjoe (Madea\’s Family Reunion and Resident Evil: Afterlife in 2010).