Bruce Willis’s latest action-thriller “Surrogates”; a lot of flare, little substance

Sean Simonson

Experiencing life from the comfort of one’s own living room without having to risk injury or disease––all while having the body of your dreams––is a fantasy often dreamed about. The latest sci-fi thriller “Surrogates” takes place in a world where everyone lives safely in their bedrooms when the danger suddenly becomes real.

Because no one has to risk injury or sickness and the perfect body can be bought, all the -isms that plague human society go away and the world becomes a utopia. But just like in any good utopia story, there is a cliché resistance, dubbed “meat-bags” by the “surrogates,” who live their lives separate from all technology in special reservations.

The opening follows Tom Geer, a cop played by Bruce Willis, and his partner, Peters, played by Radha Mitchell, as they investigate the death of a college student while he was using a “surri,” as the characters call the machines. However, no one is supposed to be physically affected by any negative sensations when using a surrogate, let alone die.

Not only that, but the victim is the son of the inventor of the surrogates and a prime target for anyone against the use of the machines. And so start the convenient coincidences that plague the entire plot line.

Heart-pumping car chases, exploding helicopters, and bullets flying every which way, inevitably find a place in all of Willis’ films, but this movie is clearly trying too hard. The directer inserts extraneous explosions and fails to excite anyone in the audience. Willis is a machine, he can’t die, and so no one really cares if he gets hurt.

When the movie attempts to switch from action to more of a suspenseful thriller, it fails miserably. The writers are overly dramatic and bring in characters who are completely unbelievable, like an army general who gives up classified information after minimal badgering.

The film further falters as it unsuccessfully tries to connect the viewer with any of the leads. After the meatbags destroy Willis’ surrogate, he is forced to navigate life in the flesh and solve a conspiracy that goes far beyond a simple murder.

Willis continues to overact and his character falls flat, further distancing himself from the audience. Ironically, the most human character is his wife, played by Rosamund Pike, who refuses to come out of her room or ever let her husband see her unless she is using a surrogate; her characterization goes little beyond that.

To make the problems even worse, the movie is preachy towards the end, and the disconnection between the characters and the audience doesn’t help. Characters that were hardly relevant in the movie suddenly break out and give cheesy monologues on topics such as,”oh no, please don’t kill him” or “humans are good, just give them a chance!” This only destroys the ounce of suspense that had survived so far and totally demolishes any value left in the film.