IR Short Takes: HOSTILES [Entertainment Studios]

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Surrogates – Theatrical Review

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The essence of people disconnecting from their life is a continual threat of technology. Nowadays people can run their entire life from their house without ever having to go outside which is undeniably a problem. The new movie “Surrogates” starring Bruce Willis approaches this subject in an action form structure but like many of Willis’ other films, it has an interesting texture beneath the surface.

One of the most jarring aspects out of the gate is the “surrogates” themselves which are primarily idealized forms of their human operators down to hair and skin tone. The one of Bruce’s character, a detective named Greer, looks like an bleached version of him from the mid 80s. It is Bruce playing the character but it is eerie in what it is which instilled some nervous laughter from some. The key is to get it back to the real man which it does and provides some existential angles.

James Cromwell, who has genre cred because of his turn as the father of warp drive in “Star Trek: First Contact”, has the plum role of the man who created the surrogates but now must examine the consequences of his actions. His intent gives the film weight as there is a similarity to Dr. Eldin Terrell from “Blade Runner” who created the Replicants.

Mistaken identity, superhuman cyborg abilities and the essence of psychology all play a part in this thinking person’s action film. It is by-the-book in many ways but should do well foreign, especially in the Asian market. The film is directed by Jonathan Mostow who directed “U-571” and “Terminator: Rise Of The Machines”. He is an able director but his style is not definitive which, in these types of pictures, can sometimes add to the progression but not as much here. As a result, the technology seems fairly surface driven which might also be a metaphor.

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In many ways, the film has the souped-up but fairly interesting parallel to “Demolition Man” which Joel Silver produced and Sylvester Stallone starred in: effective, capable and entertaining but bland in many respects. The aspect of “Surrogates” that differentiates it a bit is a more extensive perception of the psychology that threatens this society within the picture and its supposed “perfect world”. It gives thought which one always hopes with an action film, even if it is not entirely effective. Out of 5, I give “Surrogates” a 2 1/2.