Movie Review: Surrogates (2009)

September 30, 2009 in Movie Reviews by pacejmiller

surrogates-poster

Directed by Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) and starring Bruce Willis, Surrogates is a sci-fi film with tremendous potential but falls well short of reaching it.  It is based on a comic book series but feels more like an under-developed short story – you know, the type you see in sci-fi anthologies based on a brilliant idea but with only a so-so plot.  At the end of the day, it’s not a bad film, but certainly not one you’re likely to remember a couple of years down the track.

Surrogates is a difficult film to introduce because it’s hard to talk about the premise of the film without giving the essence of the story away.  Nevertheless, most people will have a fair idea if they’ve seen a preview or can put two and two together (think sci-fi and the title of the film).

As often the case with such films, the best part of Surrogates is the beginning when it brings the viewer up to speed with this new high-tech world in which the story takes place.  You then have a mystery that needs to be solved, and in comes Bruce Willis to save the day.  However, as it turns out, the plot itself is not particularly intelligent.  It’s a pretty standard affair with plot twists that are more likely to elicit ‘mehs’ than gasps.

The action was good, but was it outstanding?  No.  The drama was adequate, but was it great?  Definitely not.  What you end up with is a sci-fi film with a promising premise (albeit not an entirely original one) but a poor storyline that fails to fully engage the audience.  While it was effectively an action flick, it got too caught up in the moral/ethical/philosophical stuff and ended up not properly developing either aspect of the film.  The short running time of 89 minutes is fine for a movie like this, but it makes you wish they did more with it.  With a better script and improved execution, Surrogates could have been a lot more than it turned out to be.

That said, the special effects and make-up were impressive.  We are beginning to reach a point in time where the age of the actor will become irrelevant.  We might soon start to see movies where 70-year-old actors can play 20-year-olds – for the entire length of the film.

Jonathan Mostow is a decent director, having been at the helm of films such as Terminator 3, U571 and Breakdown (his last 3 films), but in this case you wonder whether he was restricted by the script.  Bruce Willis provides another ‘tortured soul’ performance we’re used to seeing.  Rosamund Pike is okay, but Radha Mitchell finds herself in a rather thankless role.  The worst, however, had to be James Cromwell and in particular Ving Rhames, who both appeared as though they were just in it for the paycheck.

To be honest, I was surprised at how little marketing Surrogates received.  With a budget of $80 million and Bruce Willis (plus an assortment of recognisable stars) you would have thought it deserved more.  Perhaps they knew well in advance that it wouldn’t be worth it.

3 stars out of 5!

To be honest, I was surprised at how little marketing Surrogates received.  With a budget of $80 million and Bruce Willis (plus an assortment of recognisable stars) you would have thought it deserved more.  Perhaps they