Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Jason watches SURROGATES

Yeah, I was in the mood for cheesy sci-fi, and I got it.

This is not a great movie, but mostly delivers on its promise (cheesy sci-fi fun) with a few twists that surprised me (mostly because they made very little sense).

In the near future, 98% of the population lives entirely through surrogates (or "surries"). Originally invented by Dr. Canter as a way for the disabled to lead a normal life, now nearly everyone uses them as a means to safely (and numbly) go through life as whoever they want to be. Bruce Willis stars as a FBI agent Tom Greer (BTW, for those who remember Willis's reported vanity about his bald spot while shooting HUDSON HAWK might enjoy the visual joke with his surrogate having ridiculous hair) who investigates something that hasn't happened in years--a murder. Turns out, there's a weapon that can kill people through their surrogates.

And the plot spools on from there. Whatever, I actually want to talk about the 2% of the population not using surrogates, because that's the part I found the most interesting. That 2% live in "Dread Reservations" led by charismatic leader The Prophet (Ving Rhames). But these are not just the people who see through the madness and prefer to live a life experiencing reality. These are asshole fringe wackos. They don't just eschew surrogates, they don't drive cars. When Greer's surrogate crash lands in their reservation, they don't ask/encourage him to leave, they pull out their shotguns, hunt him down, beat the crap out of him, and crucify him. When Greer comes back as a real, live human being (i.e., a "meatbag", and yes, they stole that term from "Futurama"), they don't treat him much better.

I'm not sure what the intention of this was. The idea of surrogates is pretty extreme, and of course I'd prefer to experience life for real, so I'm all ready to sympathize with the Dreads. But as soon as I meet them, I don't. There's really very little sympathetic about them. And I found that...interesting, even if I don't know why. Certainly more interesting than the rest of the movie (which is, again, good cheesy sci-fi fun).

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