Monday, October 19, 2009

Quite-So-Optimistic Movie Reviews presents: Surrogates

Surrogates is currently airing in cinemas!

Staring our favorite die-hard detective as a police of sorts in a futuristic world where people live their lives through puppet robots that are connected to them cognitively and being controlled like so. 

The future, what a bright place to be... zero crime, zero worries, a world where we can live our lives in fearless abundance, be who we want to be, the little girl inside, the hardcore rocker with a pierced tongue and a dozen tattoos, the bodybuilder with a body the size of incredible hulk, the slut with a taste for little boys... nothing is quite what it seems, because today in this future, nobody is real anymore.

The future of Bruce Willis's action sci-fi blockbuster Surrogates sees a world where cognitively linked robots modelled according to our likings are now the world's common accessories of mankind, leaving 98% of the world's population wholesomely addicted to living life through a life sized robot doll capable of doing what the real human body can't do in abundance. The freedom of skydiving, once feared by some for the snap of the rope that means certain death; now can be accessed by old men too old to live a youthful life again. The freedom of changing skin colors, eye colors, and everything else once thought impossible, to become the gender that is not your own in real life is now possible... in this dream like reality, something shattered the perfect peace that is served.

In this society crime is no longer something that happens, there are no more murders, racially incited problems are yesterday, wars are fought on board computer frames through the eyes of robotic soldiers in the fields, the world is a better place... or is it? The peace is shattered when a murder occurs, one of which is on the son of the multi trillion corporation VSI responsible for the invention of the Surrogates, the robots now being used to live the lives of 98% of all human populations on earth.

The other... is a murder of a woman, who is really not exactly what she seems to be... Police detective of the department of justice sets out to investigate... but then is he ready to confront the issue when life for him has been unsettling since it dawned to him the distance he felt between him and his wife as well as his dead son?

A broken man, pulled down by guilt of his own conscience for allowing his son to die without using a Surrogate body, while pilfered on all sides by peers who advise him the better idea of using one... a world where he no longer can see who the true face of the crime is... the murder takes a turn of terrible twist with the addition of Dreads, humans who refuse the Surrogates users as 'embodiments of evil and lies' propagated by a preacher called Nabi, soon leads the detective to stranger ends... of which the crime, is not quite what it seems.

When mankind faces their darkest moments... will hiding in a shell help? The true question lies behind what is humanity's real wish?


Verdict: 8/10 (Spoilers ahead)

While surely the movie had a lot of good points to it, one cannot help but note the theme of i-Robot and AI-ness to it all, it seemed recycled, used if not recreated from leftover cut scenes from the mentioned shows. Now we know that i-Robot sucked simply because Will Smith is in it and he is a poor actor with shitty one liners, we also know AI was excessively whiny saved only by momentary grace of Jude Law's sexy bot face. So whereforth comes for Surrogates?

Surrogates I think plays on a field of the two predecessors, very predictable, in fact, the guessing part done by me was that the bad guy had totally gotta be the good guy theme was all ready and prepped at the beginning. The moment Bruce's and his fake hair detective went in to the office to check about details for who was really murdered, the story all seemed to be unfolding quite pretentiously.

So who was the real enemy? Betting my moneys on the guy who just lost his kid and guess what? I was right, now bear in mind that I didn't think it was all that hard to guess, the fact he talks about it like it was his last moment, and the fact the movie started dropping hints on how he totally got shamed by his own company, and further kicked out was all too clearly a pointing finger.

So discarding the mystery bits, the fun parts comes when the chases ala Terminator chasing the murderer by Bruce's character was the only one left. Car chases are obstructive, if not poorly directed, and the fact that Bruce had that annoyingly distracting unflipping hair on his head just make it all worse. To add to the insult was the movie's premise that these robots are made to last, then a scene at the military training ground shows soldiers plugged into their PS3 or Xbox playing their Civil War games suddenly get blown to bits easier than pumping a shotgun...

Now, you think something military grade would have some kind of resistance but no, an AK-47 from 1955 can shoot a canker into the bloody thing, only thing is that these soldiers can keep on coming and coming. The whole thing was a bit daunting... when the company slogan was played along the movie: how would you like to live your life safely, securely? Now if it was that secure you did think they put some armor on that thing.

Anyway, off the point wise, the highlight of the movie plays on Willis's character relationship with a wife who refuses to get off and out of her room due to the guilt she feels for her son's death and the way he pleads for his wife to come back. It was all very real, very good acting goes in here and Willis was almost convincing for his life to bring the story to a dramatic end, which it did... though not without much cliche.

The moment of truth when it was revealed the big plan to pull the cord on all humans came down to Willis' hand to change mankind... truly becomes monumental. The bad guy here then... is it really Willis' character? Or the world at fault?

As the VSI personnel said: This is a problem of humanity, it is an addiction. To kill the addiction, one must kill the source of the addict itself. He isn't wrong, and the story aptly looks at humans today, addicted to the computer, addicted to the ways of life we are living...

If we can somehow pull the plug to replace with something like Surrogates, without the worry of dying from taking drugs, without the worry of hunger, sleep, to live a life we want... it would become an instant addiction... but then, is addiction the real life we experience? Are we still who we are?

The movie plays well on these grounds, now if only it doesn't feel so recycled it would have been perfect. In fact, it reeks of i-Robot without (thank god) Will Smith.

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