Thursday, June 24, 2010

DVD Review: Surrogates Gets Better As It Goes

Increasingly more movies start with a blast and end with a whisper. Modern filmmakers tend to be great starters but lackluster closers, cooking up more trouble than they have ingenuity to solve. Fortunately, Surrogates, helmed by Die Hard 4 director Jonathan Mostow, grows in drama and ingenuity as it plods along, building finally to a thought-provoking enough denouement.
The androids of the title, operated remotely by humans, have a distancing effect on the first third of the film. Surrogates are played with a distinct sense of alienation, all perfect skin, stiff stances, blank faces, and glazed over eyes. Granted, this decision works in the world of the movie- it is necessary. But it does make it hard to connect with any of the onscreen players.
Luckily, the film becomes progressively more interesting as the film delves into the juxtaposition between the surrogates and their operators. A tall black man, for example, turns out to actually be a nerdy, white lab tech. Bruce Willis’ character, Tom Greer, is a baby-faced pretty boy with a headful of Ken-doll hair as a surrogate. The real Tom is bald, unshaven, and scarred. This is where the fun starts, as well as the intriguing connections between the online social world we find in World of Warcraft, Facebook, or Twitter and the surrogates of the film. Ultimately, this film is a scathing commentary on the avatar-based culture we have built.
Once Tom destroys his surrogate and is forced to push ahead in his physical body, the audience can connect with him and his awakening to the ills of the surrogate movement. The film finds a solid rhythm in a chase between Tom and a female surrogate s she leaps and crashes through Boston traffic. When Tom plows over a sidewalk full of surrogates with his car like orange caution cones, you don’t know whether to chuckle or cringe. Regardless, you know you’ve entered a real film fun house.
Surrogates gets more entertaining and clever as it careens along. If at all, it suffers from pacing that feels a little off-beat and a script that discovers its legs a little too late. Production values are good enough but could have been slightly more convincing with a bigger budget.

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree with your review. At first I felt like Surrogates was a cheesy Bruce Willis movie. "What is he doing with hair?" was pretty much my only thought. But as the plot progressed and the movie continued, I discovered that I couldn't ignore the screen any more. It's a movie I would definitely recommend.


Join the conversation! I'm always interested in hearing what visitors have to say.