Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Bruce Willis is a lazy, grungy addict. And he must break the addiction; break it for us all. This is the premise of Surrogates.

Surrogates is a science fiction movie about the future, and about a possible technological advance. In this hypothetical world, we are on an earth where one man has invented the ultimate convenience, and shared it with a world that has quickly embraced it. This invention is the android, but not as you have ever seen it before.

Beauty and Power

In this world, everyone uses remote-controlled androids to go into the world and interact. To use them, people stay at home and plug into their computers in a Matrix-esque manner, allowing them to control idealized likenesses of themselves that are almost impervious to harm. This is an extremely attractive prospect to many, as using them both keeps one safe from assault or harm and allows one to look like a supermodel. Thus the streets are filled with perfectly shaven and attractively featured young men and women, with nary an unattractive blemish or aged face in sight.

But not all is fun and games. Life becomes a routine of satisfying one's self without risk or effort. The androids are commonly produced, seen everywhere, and almost universally accepted. Those who view themselves as marred or ugly take to it with disturbing alacrity. Wars are even fought from the safety of vast electronic warehouses, making battles inconsequential and creating the ultimate detachment from killing. Clearly, something is wrong here and Bruce Willis, being a badass, decides to do something about it, shake off his addiction to the androids, and dropkick the system into oblivion.

Embracing One's Humanity

One thing that is interesting about stories like these is seeing how it depicts the world, particularly how the world is changed as a result of the new technology. And this is done well in Surrogates, with only a few general holes.

Throughout all of history, the new has always had those who want nothing to do with it. Change is always controversial, and even the most beneficial invention has encountered those suspicious or hardened against it. This holds true in Surrogates as well. Men and women choosing to have nothing to do with the androids and those who use them are permitted to establish enclaves within the United States that are android-free. Part of the movie takes place within one, and it is through this peek that it becomes very clear that the use of androids prompt some people to become very, very angry. As it should be.

Similarly, there are those who embrace it too readily. Tom Greer's (Bruce Willis) wife qualifies, and his relationship with her is dominated by her unhealthy obsession with utilizing her android to communicate with him even at home, locking her door to prevent him from seeing her directly, not letting him talk to the real person. The reason is that her face was marred from a car crash in the past, an accident that happened to kill their only son as well. Consequently, the relationship between the two is heart wrenching. Bruce Willis actually makes you believe in his longing desire to see the woman he married, and to love her face to face once again. His conversations with her are thus very touching and very sad, as he tries to convince her that she doesn't have to use the android, that being herself is all that he would ever want. This impressed me to no end, as Bruce Willis does not usually do much acting outside of 'gruff, quiet badass', and this movie proves that he is not just a one-shot actor.


This movie was quite good, and definitely worth seeing if the premise appeals to you. Bruce Willis manages to hit all the right notes. This is very important, as for most of the movie he is the only real person that you see. The other actors and actresses do a good job of portraying their android forms, minimizing emotional responses and instead striking a perfect (albeit disturbing) balance between detached observation and intense focus.

The only catch is that sometimes things just feel off. It is odd how the members of the anti-android enclaves are among the least fit people you see, considering how they don't use the 'droids and thus have no reason for their muscles and figures to atrophy. It is also confusing how the creator of the android technology is approached. Sometimes he seems too extreme and sometimes you don't quite understand his rationale. Sadly, the ending also seems somewhat anticlimactic and the resolution seems a tad rushed. If it was so easy to create that virus then why hadn't someone done it already? And how the heck does the anti-android weapon make any sense at all?

In short, this is worth seeing with only a handful of niggling doubts and faults.


1 comment:

  1. Back to 1978, when I was 10 yr old, I read a translated English / American comic in Indonesian about a boy who have a ROBOT parents! Thank you for this post!