Posted by: reformedmusings | September 27, 2009



I saw Surrogates yesterday. It’s a nice science fiction piece in the old fashion, thinking mold.

The plot revolves around a future where an inventor creates the ultimate prosthetic for the physically disabled – a complete robot body that they control remotely with their minds. The robots look very human, but without blemish. As often happens in real life, well-intentioned inventions find uses beyond the original intent. Before long, ordinary people are living their lives through these surrogate robots. They are pitched as a way to live freely and unfettered by risk, limitations, or looks. Real people rarely leave their homes or interact directly with each other.  The streets are completely populated by remotely-controlled surrogates – an existence of perpetual good-looks, a life without consequences, and a society virtually without crime.

Ah, but all is not well in paradise. Not everyone thinks that living life exclusively through robotic surrogates constitutes real living. These folks have carved out surrogate-free zones in major cities. They are led by The Prophet, who preaches the value of real humanity and the evil of surrogates.

The action starts when a surrogate is attacked outside of a nightclub with a new weapon. In a shocking turn (pun intended), the weapon also kills the  individual controlling the surrogate when the surrogate is destroyed – something deemed impossible. Bruce Willis plays an FBI agent who must solve the case. While chasing the killer, Bruce Willis’ character’s surrogate is destroyed. In order to solve the mystery, Willis must do so in the flesh – a scary and dangerous undertaking.

The movie investigates an age-old question often addressed in science fiction – what does it mean to be human? In I, Robot and Blade Runner, the question was addressed concerning the humanity of advanced, autonomous robots. Surrogates bring the line closer to home. The anonymity of the Internet provides a taste of living through a kind of surrogate existence. The movie takes a few humorous pokes at virtual anonymity.

I found the graphic effects and acting appropriate to the story. There are a number of interesting plot twists. The movie uses the varied and logical implications of a surrogate existence very well to produce both humor and some of the twists.

Like all good science fiction, including District 9, the movie leaves you with some things about which to think. I enjoyed the movie and believe that it made some pertinent observations about humanity in our own 21st century.


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