Gendre: Sci-Fi with a moral.
Release dates: 25 Sept 09 (USA), 13 Nov 09 (South Africa)
- Bruce Willis – Tom Greer, FBI agent
- Radha Mitchell – Jennifer Peters, FBI agent
- Rosamund Pike – Maggie, wife of Tom. Works as a facial features stylist for surrogates
- James Cromwell – Dr. Lionel Canter, inventor of surrogacy and head of VSI
- Ving Rhames – The Prophet and leader of those violently opposing surrogacy
Set in 2017, VSI, the Microsoft of robotic technology, develops the ability to manufacture human-like and very functional robot models (surrogates) for every person and the best part is these models can be controlled by the robot’s owner (operator) from the safety of home. Ultimately, they create a world in which robots rule outside the home and humans never need leave the house or bed even.
Initially the motivation for surrogacy was safety. The surrogate walks, talks and functions in the danger filled real world while the human (operator) stays safely in doors – in a prone position – using some form of mind control to direct the actions of their personalized surrogate. The up side is the surrogate can loose limbs, be shot and even be completely dismembered with no consequence to the operator who is safely lying in bed at home. With this technology everyone is buffered from the pain of human interaction gone wrong and the stress of getting from point A to point B.
Along with the ability to mold these surrogates into perfect physical specimens they also have super human capabilities. They run many times the normal speed of humans, jump vertically higher than kangaroos and can withstand huge amounts of physical trauma before succumbing to failure. And the operator experiences every sensation safely at home. On first appearances, who wouldn’t want that?
However, what started out as a good idea turned into a nightmare. The technology becomes a crutch used to avoid facing life’s embarrassing but inevitable experiences – like aging – or a free pass to cross the moral and safety boundaries most people live behind everyday.
The older generation clings to the robotic lifestyle to maintain the appearance of youth in the real world. The younger generation craves living on the fringe through a surrogate.
All of this comes crashing down when someone develops a weapon that can destroy both surrogate and operator simultaneously. Enter FBI agent Tom Greer who now has a legal justification to bring an end to surrogacy to match his desire and need for human touch. Up to this point he and his wife, Maggie, who inhabit the same apartment but live in separate rooms, make contact only through their surrogates as they move in and out of the flat each day.
The acting is great and the cast is led by film heavy weight, Bruce Willis, whose credits are too long to list. Bruce puts a human face on pain and the courage it takes to rise above it as well as any and better than most.
The film has a lot of sci-fi but a little of every category: action, suspense, thriller, mystery, political debate, surprise and even a bit of romance as Bruce and his wife find each other in the end. In fact, forget Sci-Fi, romance is really the primary theme. The story does have some twists and turns that I won’t reveal here.
The film is believe-able in many ways but unthinkable in others.
- That technology, as accelerated and adventurous as it is these days, could develop or at least try to develop such possibilities isn’t beyond imagination. That society would buy into it as a way of life is. To say it eliminates much of what it means to be human is an understatement.
- The setting is very believe-able. It is far enough in the future to allow time for development but fashion and lifestyles haven’t changed to the point of being unrecognizable. You can identify with the setting.
- Realistically speaking robots this active would need charging often and, sure enough, charging units feature frequently in the film. Every surrogate has one at home and charging stations are included as props in many public scenes as well.
- Obviously, laying on a couch all day while mentally directing a surrogate would render one physically weak and unbalanced in a very short period of time and, sure enough, when Tom (Bruce) does venture out into the real world he struggles even with the normal sights and sound of life on the outside.
- Technology is basically amoral and becomes good or bad depending on how you use it.
- Human physicality inevitably deteriorates with age, the need for human intimacy doesn’t.
- The best deterrent to aging and deterioration is activity.
You can buy Surrogates inexpensively here.
Violence renders the movie a little heavy for young kids but it is interesting and very entertaining, even philosophical, for most everyone else. Once you’ve seen it tell us what you THINK!AboutIt.