Surrogates offers sci-fi action with a social dimension

Robert Venetti was packing boxes in the warehouse at Top Shelf Comics when he had the idea for his successful graphic novel series The Surrogates. With the release of this sci-fi action movie starring Bruce Willis, he’s living a fanboy dream. The story is a conventional dystopian conceit: in a 2054, which looks a lot like the present, people live their lives by proxy, staying isolated in their homes while remotely operating surrogates — perfect, idealized robotic representatives of themselves. A resistance movement, led by a dreadlocked guru called The Prophet (Ving Rhames), aims to eliminate the scourge of robots and restore human society. When someone starts killing humans (called “meatbags”) via their surrogates, FBI agent Greer (Willis), who employs a younger, blonder representative, and his partner Peters (Radha Mitchell), uncover a society-shaking conspiracy. Directed by Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3) and adapted by Michael Ferris and John Brancato, Surrogates explores, in a crisp, compact 88 minutes, the social and psychological dimensions of technological over-dependency. Greer, forced for the first time in years to operate without a surrogate, longs poignantly for the companionship of his wife (Rosamund Pike), who lies frightened in her bedroom while functioning through a beautiful, plasticky robot. ***

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