Today’s big fanboy release at theaters is “Surrogates,” but reviewer Richard Abele writes in the Los Angeles Times Calendar section that you might want to just stay home, rent “Westworld” and send your robot double to the theater…. Here’s an excerpt with links added by me. — Geoff Boucher
Trying to lure the self-hypnotized gamer nation out into the world to see a dystopian popcorn flick that paints Sims-style living as the end of civilization might seem like a fool’s errand. And yet here comes “Surrogates,” a slick sci-fi number that presents a future in which flawless, hot-bodied, chicly dressed synthetic humans do the everyday living/working/playing, their every action neurally controlled by their real-human counterparts, a risk-averse population of shut-ins who’ve gone to seed. An interesting idea, but unfortunately, the film’s narrative and emotional engine operate as mechanically as the titular, dead-eyed glamazoids.
“Surrogates” stars Bruce Willis as Tom, who in the light of day is a nattily dressed, expressionless robot cop (with hair!) partnered with a model-licious fellow “surrie” (Radha Mitchell) but whose homebound version is a stubbly, heartbroken man unable to connect to his surrogate-addicted wife (Rosamund Pike) or get over the death of their son some years earlier. Human Tom must face the world, though, when his surrogate is destroyed chasing down a man responsible for a criminal rarity: actual human murders.
It all points to a conspiracy entangling the ubiquitous corporation behind surrogacy, the wheelchair-bound inventor of the technology (James Cromwell), and an anti-robot, save-humanity protest movement led by a dreadlocked figure named the Prophet (a hammy Ving Rhames). At the heart of it all is a mysterious weapon that when fired at a surrogate acts as the nastiest kind of computer virus, destroying its supposedly untouchable flesh-and-blood user too.
While the notion holds promise, the execution is strictly campy and adrenaline-driven….
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– Richard Abele
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PHOTO: Touchstone Pictures