Surrogates being a Touchstone film, it might be pretty
interesting to see as a weekly series on ABC. For purposes
of pacing, Director Jonathan Mostow glides over the development
of man's cybernetic replacements and their impact on society
so that he can pounce on a juicy murder mystery.
least, that's obviously the intent. But that murder mystery
has everything to do with the social impact of the majority
of humanity staying safe in couches while robotic avatars
live their lives. Thus at its heart, Surrogates seethes
with very cool ideas, glimpses of interesting sidebars but
a mystery that never gets near as interesting as the world
Yet on DVD, that's somewhat forgivable.
The Blu-ray includes a look at the graphic novel source
material (available from Top Shelf), part documentary and
part motion comic. Without having read the book, my impression
is that while it may have been plotted and paced a little
differently, Mostow's film is fairly faithful - but on the
page there's a lot more room to explore. It's also been
announced that creators Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele
will be doing a prequel series, allowing for that exploration.
They know, and Mostow and his team know, they're onto something
What makes the film most watchable are
the little details. Though aided by some CG, star Bruce
Willis gives a performance full of subtle details. Without
calling attention to himself, he makes it quite clear that
even in the "perfection" of the surrogates, there's something
still subtly unliving about their movement and reactions.
Not all of the supporting actors match that, especially
in crowd scenes, which makes Willis all the more notable.
While we might argue about the world of Surrogates
being the world of tomorrow, the disc gathers together evidence
that we're rapidly about to lose the "fiction" part of it
being "science fiction." Seeing all that does make it a
little disappointing that the movie script couldn't spend
more time exploring the implications of this - Willis' character
growing dissatisfaction with a virtual life is bluntly stated,
but not given much time to grow.
The deleted scenes don't particularly add
to this, either. For the most part, it's pretty obvious
why they got cut, and none really go deep into the motivations
and lives of the other characters. Instead, you can turn
to another feature interviewing some of the actors, such
as Radha Mitchell and Rosamund Pike, who obviously worked
deeper than onscreen material required.
Ultimately, the film is an agreeable enough
87 minutes. The questions it could provoke might keep you
up a bit longer than that. While not the best Bruce Willis
action movie, it's better than its theatrical reputation.