7.08.2010

QUICKIE: Surrogates (Jonathan Mostow, 2009)

"Human perfection. What could go wrong?" Perhaps a more apt tagline might have been, "This is why we can't have nice things." Jonathan Mostow's tight-like-a-tiger Surrogates, based on Robert Venditti's similarly titled comic book, is comfily nestled in Philip K. Dick turf, presenting convenient ideas for the future that only further subvert humanity. If you've read Dick or at least seen Ridley Scott's Blade Runner or Steven Spielberg's Minority Report, both based on Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", you'll likely agree. No matter anyone's opinions of those films (my own from the former to the latter run quite an ascending range), they were landmarks in motion picture science fiction. Surrogates continues the tradition, even if it doesn't quite reach equal heights due to occasional reliance on the same 'B-movie' convention Mostow displayed with Terminator 3.

Probing consideration is given to the futuristic society reliant on robotic versions of its members (the surrogates or "suris"). These almost transhumanist products exceed mere luxury, permeating the everyday to avoid travesties like murder and, more generally, improve everyone's self-image. A spattering of logical gaps do present themselves but are easily paved over by continuation of the great detail from which they rose. Along with the world's embellishment are a few doses of altogether thrilling action, but this action is prevented from encroaching upon the more lasting aspects, thereby preserving most of the film's integrity.

Surrogates functions as a metaphor for our current, penetrating relationship with the internet and, to a relatively lesser extent, the near impossible standards we hold ourselves to. It is involving, cautionary and all the while as attractive as a designer suri (the lovely Rosamund Pike's onscreen presence certainly assists in this area). Its few stray defects are compensated for threefold, making for an entirely gratifying time at the movies.

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