2009, PG-13, 89 min. Directed by Jonathan Mostow. Starring Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Ving Rhames, Rosamund Pike, James Cromwell, Boris Kodjoe.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 2, 2009

In a Philip K. Dickian twist on Ram Dass' "Be here now" slogan and thanks to robotic surrogates and fancy tanning-bed/Barcalounger virtual reality units, the characters in this sublimely silly scrap of sci-fi filmmaking can be somewhere else now. And, more to the point, they can also be someone else now, while the real deals recline in dark rooms in increasing stages of emotional and physical isolation. Long live the new flesh? Not in this ridiculous and badly conceived flip side to David Cronenberg's Videodrome; it's a wonder the few actual "human" characters we get to see aren't covered with bedsores and suffering from serious immune system failure. Willis is a Boston FBI agent who uncovers a plot by bot manufacturing megacorporation VCI (or possibly by the jaundiced old duffer played by Cromwell or rogue elements in the FBI itself) to kill billions of people in their homes by frying the circuits of their robotic surrogates. "But why?" you ask. Although the script (adapted from the graphic novel) by Michael Ferris and John Brancato tries mighty hard to make a compelling argument along the quasi-Luddite lines of "sexy robots bad; ugly humans good," it's nothing that hasn't been done countless times before, from Rod Serling's original Twilight Zone ("Number 12 Looks Just Like You," penned by sci-fi legend Charles Beaumont) to WALL-E. Surrogates' morality is less Asimov than asinine, although it's bizarrely reassuring, in a nihilistic sort of way, to believe that in the future, when the world is ready to play The Sims for real (so to speak), our avatars are all going to look like generic porn stars with shitty airbrush jobs.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Jonathan Mostow Films
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
In the 12 years since Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released both the sci-fi/action genre and the art of computer-generated special effects (which that film’s ...

Marc Savlov, July 4, 2003

More by Marc Savlov
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
Welcome back, Mister Wick: Everyone's favorite merciless killer gets more human and more intriguing

May 17, 2019

Carmine Street Guitars
Spend time with the quiet artisans who make the instruments that rock & roll is built upon

May 10, 2019


Surrogates, Jonathan Mostow, Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Ving Rhames, Rosamund Pike, James Cromwell, Boris Kodjoe

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle