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Directed by Jonathan Mostow.
Written by Michael Ferris and John D. Brancato.
Starring Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike and James Cromwell.

Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  10/3/09


I'm a Bruce Willis fan so maybe that's why I thought, well, there's no way "Surrogates" will be any good, but maybe my boy will put the hurt on a couple of guys, crack some signature one-liners and we can call it a day.  Plus, I thought the trailer wasn't bad.

The best thing about "Surrogates" is that it doesn't totally suck.  Willis plays an FBI agent in the near future named Greer who lives in a society where 98% of humans have a physical clone body that they use to move about in society while operating this clone from a rig based in their individual home.  These surrogates are essentially perfect, ageless, deathproof units that allow for people to stay home in their safe haven and avoid the ills of human contact until their natural death.  However, in this new society, someone has just killed the son of the inventor of these surrogates, a guy named Canter (James Cromwell), and since this is the first murder of a person through their surrogate device, Greer's gotta find out what the hell is going on!

The plot is blah, and it's unnecessarily twisty later on, but I did like the underlying idea of a society that becomes out of touch with itself by allowing for people to run around in these surrogate forms.  I've had this feeling for a while that people have gotten too comfortable not talking to real people, and "Surrogates" takes that two steps further with its futureview, which I thought was interesting.  But, then we get a fairly hackneyed PG-13 thriller experience, complete with Willis not even able to be Willis and a surprising lack of action for what to me seemed like it would be an action film.

It doesn't help that we don't get a cast worth a damn, or that Ving Rhames plays a leader of the "fuck these surrogates" resistance (complete with bad dreads), or that the movie takes place in Boston, which I'm still hoping gets burned to the ground any day now.  (I really, REALLY hate Boston.)  By the way, former Bond girl Rosamund Pike (she was the bad one in "Die Another Day") plays Greer's wife, and she keeps making me think that she's going to turn in a performance worthy of consideration and it keeps on not happening...I just have to admit it to myself now that it's probably never going to happen.

"Surrogates" was perfect for $8 and what I expected it to be--a light, mostly forgettable experience that at least got the mind going for a little while before delving back into mediocrity.  This will be hot for a week and then be gone wonders what Willis will do to bide his time until the next big actioner comes his way!

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 10/03/09