Sep 302009
Authors: Laura James

In a future full of avatar robots, what could possibly go wrong? Enter the world of “Surrogates” — a new awesomely bad Bruce Willis gem.

Based off the 2006 graphic novel “The Surrogates,” the new action/thriller falls short of Director Jonathan Mostow’s works, which include “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and “U-571.” “Surrogates” is by far the worse of the three.

The movie takes place in a not-so-distant future in which robots controlled by human minds stand in place for actual human beings in everyday life — the idea being that these surrogates provide the ultimate degree of safety.

With a surrogate, people can do whatever they wish without consequence to your actual body. These mechanical surrogates reap the penalties of whatever risky behavior they engage in.

Needless to say, these surrogates are aesthetically perfect and have technologically advanced survival skills. It’s like a mash-up of “I, Robot” and “The Island.”

In a future, where 90 percent of people function in their daily life through a surrogate, what’s a cop to do when a weapon that destroys both surrogate and operator simultaneously is discovered?

Enter Willis as Greer, a cop down on his luck since the death of his son in a car accident before the use of surrogates for children. Greer hasn’t seen a real homicide, that is, a murder that included the death of a surrogate’s operator, in almost 20 years.

The most obvious culprits would be anyone living on one of the designated “humans only” areas set up across the country. Disturbed by the idea of living in perpetual virtual reality, some humans have decided to live their lives without the use of surrogates.

These anti-robot people now live as second-class citizens in dilapidated “reservations” on the outskirts of most major cities. Ving Rhames cameos as the strange Rastafarian-looking prophet who leads the anti-robot movement.

The film quickly turns into a combination of a “whodunit” and an allegorical tale about the dangers of avatar life.

At a whopping 88 minutes, it’s as if the producers knew it was going to suck long before its release. Skip it. Unless of course you’re a Sims addict, in which case, you desperately need the wake up call this film proclaims.

Movie reviewer Laura James can be reached at

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