2009 | Director: Jonathan Mostow (“Breakdown,” “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”) | Writers: John Brancato and Michael Ferris (“The Net”)
“Surrogates,” or “I, Robot 2: Way Worse Than I, Robot,” shares the distinctly plastic, non-threatening look of 2004’s Will Smith yawn-factory, but it also takes a turn South from that low common denominator to focus exclusively on humans themselves as humanity’s big enemy, instead of that much more frightening specter of evil, soulless machines. What’s that you say? The machines in “I, Robot” weren’t menacing in the least? Well then, you’ll find the lame ideas behind “Surrogates” even less frightening. You might even forget what you came to watch when you wake up during the end credits.
Little-known character actor Bruce Willis (“Moonlighting”) stars as FBI agent Tom Greer, a future-man with hideous, limp blond hair draped across his glistening forehead–only he’s not a man; he’s a Surrogate, or “Surry,” a robot replica of Greer being controlled by the real man back at home base. In the film’s world of 2017, everyone uses creepy-looking Surries to live their daily lives safely and anonymously, making harsh crimes like rape and murder things of the pre-robot-body past. While the real Greer slumps around his house, bumping into his distant wife every so often in between visits to his dead son’s empty bedroom, his Surry is out dragging its rubbery complexion and hideous, limp blond hair to crime scenes, such as that which drives the film’s ever-so-tedious plot: two Surrogates have been whacked in an alley–not an uncommon occurrence, apparently–but their users, the real humans back in their homes, were also killed in the process–an unprecedented event in such a peaceful world. Who’s trying to kill all Surry-using humans, and for the love of Pete, why? I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll tell you one thing about the mystery’s answer: it sucks really bad.
“Surrogates” feels like an ill-planned event all around–aside from the woefully uninterested acting from the hideous-limp-blond-hair-wearing Willis, Radha Mitchell, and Irving “Ving” Rhames (“Surrogates”), the film features some of the dullest direction ever crapped out on celluloid, thanks to helmer Jonathan Mostow (“Beverly Hills Bodysnatchers”) and a miserable script from John Brancato and Michael Ferris (“Catwoman”)–but seriously, what’s with Bruce Willis’ hair? A bald actor can choose any wig he wants for a film, so why pick something that looks like a urine-soaked doily? In a way, the wig on center stage in “Surrogates” is emblematic of its problems: it’s hideous, it’s limp, and it’s blond. I’m still working on why that last part is important, but trust me when I insist that it’s not worth finding out.
Rating: One of Five Stars