Surrogates (2009)

Genre(s): Action / Crime / Science Fiction / Thriller
Touchstone || PG13 - 89 minutes - $29.99 || January 26, 2010
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2010-01-18


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Writer(s): Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele (graphic novel); Michael Ferris & John Brancato (screenplay)
Cast: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames


Theatrical Release Date: September 25, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Music Video


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Remember the days when Bruce Willis was a box-office star? I don’t really either outside of his Die Hard franchise, so if you do then you have more box-office knowledge than I do. Surrogates, his latest action/thriller flick, under-performed at the theaters and has caused me to wonder if his appeal as an actor is truly gone from audiences. I can say that after watching the movie I heard nothing good about that his appeal really is gone. Then again, you do get to see Bruce Willis in a comb-over for the first part of the movie. Of course, the movie is a direct rip-off of I, Robot, and an even crappier one at that!

Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) is a police officer working in a world full of robots. The film is set in the future where the entire population, well most of it anyways, uses a robot known as a “surrogate” to perform their daily lives and actions rather than do it themselves. Greer works with his partner Peters (Radha Mitchell) on a recent murder case that involves the creator of surrogates Canter (James Cromwell) and his son being killed on said case. The son, who was a surrogate at the time, was killed through some electric device that for the first time in many years killed both the son and the surrogate at once. Alarmed by the fact that a murder spree could be happening, the police set out to find the murderer who is identified as Strickland (Jack Noseworthy).

Greer finds out where Strickland is located thanks to help from their computer tech and gets in a chopper to hunt him down. Strickland however uses the electric device again, killing multiple cops and almost Greer in the process, and attempts to run away. Greer unhooks himself from the surrogate and then hooks himself back up and chases Strickland until he’s shot by the actual humans who live in filth and poor across town. They are led by a man known as The Prophet (Ving Rhames), and hate surrogates for destroying society. Strickland gets away only to be found by Prophet the next day and subsequently killed by him for insubordination for hiding the weapon from the people. Now without a surrogate, it’s up to Greer and his partner Peters to stop Prophet from destroying the surrogate population, or maybe Greer does want the surrogates dead because of the way him and his wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike) have been distant from each other.

Here’s the problem right away with the film: the plot is almost identical to I, Robot in almost every sense. There’s a population of robots that are being killed off, and when the surrogate dies then the human dies too. The robots in the surrogate world are supposed to be good but I guess they can be controlled to do bad things too. Plus, the creator of the surrogates seems a bit nutty (similar to the aforementioned movie) and is probably up to no good since his son was killed off and strangely enough some leader of the humans is going crazy and wanting war against surrogates. This is the same plot we’ve seen years ago, minus Will Smith.

Putting that notion aside, the movie just isn’t that entertaining. When I read at the top of the DVD cover that the movie was “action packed” I was expecting multiple action sequences and tons of shooting scenes. Instead, we only get a lame chase scene, some robots getting shot, and green ooze (that looks strangely like alien ooze from the movie of the same title) spraying from the robots when they are injured. The premise is a neat idea, but it’s one that we’ve heard so many times that the idea is getting old. The problem really is the fact that the movie tries to be an action, thriller, and science fiction movie rolled up into a ninety-minute package and fails on every end. When the movie tries to be action-packed it ends up going science fiction, and then when it tries to be a thriller it goes into action mode.

There’s no real plot here that you haven’t seen before, the action sequence is lame, and the film has a predictable ending that you’ll probably guess once the movie starts. Plus, Bruce Willis with a comb-over is such a riot that after I saw him dressed like that I couldn’t take the movie seriously. We get it, you’re old Willis. Move on.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Commentary by Jonathan Mostow: I give major credit to Mostow for being able to hold his own the entire film for this solo commentary. He talks about the plot, the characters, and the basic overview of the film for those who didn’t understand it. I enjoyed the commentary the whole way through, and look forward to more commentaries (hopefully) from him in the future.

“I Will Not Bow” Music Video by Breaking Benjamin (4 minutes): Breaking Benjamin perform one of the songs from the soundtrack, a song which reached top 5 at the alternative charts recently. I’ve been a huge Breaking Benjamin fan since they started years and years ago, so this song and video is worth a listen.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

For a recent flick, this one looks pretty dang good. Normally when I say “for a recent flick” it comes out bad and the transfer doesn’t appeal to my eyes, but surprisingly this one is satisfactory for a DVD transfer. Colors are bright and none are over blown or overshadow another color throughout the viewing of the movie. Brightness though does suffer a bit; as blacks do tend to take precedence over other colors even though most of the film is shot outdoors it’s somewhat hard to tell due to lack of sunlight and whites. I also noticed that there are a fairly large amount of grain and noise throughout the movie, especially in the dark scenes, that caused the flesh tones of the characters to appear as if they were moving. This is still a great transfer though, and one other movie companies should take note of for their releases.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track though on the other hand isn’t quite as impressive though, as it sports somewhat unbalanced audio levels and low dialogue levels. I noticed several times throughout the movie that I had to tweak the audio, most of the time higher than what I previously had set it, more than usual. There were also times where dialogue was hard to make out and I struggled to understand clarity wise what was being said. Surround usage was decent; although the film is an action-filled ride (so the box says) there were few scenes that sounded as well as I had originally hoped. The track does okay, and a little more than average that I’m used to, but there’s nothing really special about this track.



.::OVERALL::.

I tried to like Surrogates, I really did, but the film so short that even myself couldn’t get into it. The technical package is nice and the commentary/video is great though. This one is probably best served as a rental for sci-fi/action fans, and to all others you may want to stay away. I think it’s time for another Die-Hard flick Willis... sadly.