Surrogates is a 2009 American science fiction action film based on the 2005–2006 comic book series The Surrogates. Directed by Jonathan Mostow, it stars Bruce Willis as Tom Greer, an FBI agent who ventures out into the real world to investigate the murder of surrogates (humanoid remote-controlled robots). It also stars Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, Ving Rhames, and James Cromwell.
The film's main concept centers on the mysterious murder of a college student linked to the man who helped create a high-tech surrogate phenomenon that allows people to purchase remote-controlled humanoid robots through which they interact with society. These fit, attractive, remotely controlled robots ultimately assume their life roles, enabling people to experience life vicariously from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Surrogates was released on September 25, 2009, in the United States and Canada. It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed over $122 million.
Plot[edit | edit source]
In the near future, widespread use of remotely controlled androids called "surrogates" enables everyone to live in idealized forms from the safety of their homes. Compared to their surrogates, the human operators are depicted as slovenly and homebound. Protected from harm, a surrogate's operator feels no pain when the surrogate is damaged, and can do acrobatics that a normal person wouldn't. In Boston, FBI agent Tom Greer has been estranged from his wife Maggie, since their son's death in a car crash several years before. He never sees her outside of her surrogate and she criticizes his desire to interact via their real bodies.
Tom and his partner, Agent Jennifer Peters, investigate the death of two people who were killed when their surrogates were destroyed at a Fort Point club. Jared Canter (Shane Dzicek), one of the victims, is the son of Dr. Lionel Canter, the inventor of surrogates and the former head of their manufacturing company, Virtual Self Industries (VSI). The two determine that a human, Miles Strickland, used a new type of weapon to overload the surrogates' systems and kill their operators. After locating Strickland, Tom attempts to bring him into custody. Strickland uses the weapon and injures Tom during the chase; Tom inadvertently crash-lands into an anti-surrogate zone known as the Dread Reservation (one of many throughout the US). A mob helps Strickland and destroys Tom's surrogate. The Dread leader, a man known as the Prophet kills Strickland and confiscates the weapon.
With his surrogate destroyed, Tom is forced to interact in the world without one. He learns that VSI originally produced the weapon, designed to load a virus that overloads a surrogate's systems, thus disabling it, under a government contract. Unexpectedly, the weapon also disabled the fail-safe protocols protecting operators. The project was promptly scrapped and all prototypes supposedly destroyed. Tom also learns that Andrew Stone, his FBI superior, supplied the weapon to Strickland and ordered Dr. Canter's assassination, upon VSI's request, for his criticism of surrogate use. Jared, using one of his father's many surrogates, was killed instead. Jennifer is murdered in her own home by an unknown man who hijacks her surrogate, and the Prophet orders the weapon delivered to her. During a military raid on the reservation, the Prophet is shot, revealing he was actually a surrogate, with Canter himself as the operator. Tom steals the weapon's codes from Stone, but "Jennifer" escapes with the codes.
Immediately travelling to Canter's home, Tom discovers that Canter has been controlling not only the Prophet, but Jennifer as well. Using Jennifer's surrogate in FBI Headquarters, Canter uses the weapon to kill Stone and proceeds to upload the virus to all surrogates, which will destroy them and kill their operators. Canter reveals that he only wanted to empower the disabled to live normal lives, but after he was fired from VSI, they capitalized on surrogacy for profit. Convinced his plan is unstoppable, Canter disconnects from Jennifer's surrogate and swallows a cyanide pill. Tom takes control of Jennifer's surrogate and, with the assistance of the network's system administrator, Bobby Saunders, insulates the virus so the operators will survive, but a second step is required to save the surrogates. After a moment of consideration, Tom chooses to let the virus permanently disable surrogates worldwide. With all the surrogates disabled, people emerge from their homes, confused and afraid.
Returning home, Tom shares an emotional embrace with Maggie in her real form. The film ends with an aerial view of the collapsed surrogates along with overlapping news reports of downed surrogates all over the world and how people are now "on their own" again.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Bruce Willis as Thomas "Tom" Greer, an FBI agent investigating the mysterious murder of a college student linked to the high-tech surrogate phenomenon.
- Radha Mitchell as Jennifer Peters, Tom Greer's FBI partner.
- Rosamund Pike as Maggie Greer, Tom Greer's wife.
- Jack Noseworthy as Miles Strickland, a man hired to kill Lionel Canter.
- James Cromwell as Dr. Lionel Canter, the inventor of the surrogates. He's planning on to destroy them after his son was murdered by the assassin.
- Ving Rhames as The Prophet, a cult figure who disdains surrogates.
- Boris Kodjoe as Andrew "Andy" Stone, Peters' and Greer's supervisor at the FBI. He's the one who sent Strickland to kill Canter, but instead killed his son by mistake.
- James Francis Ginty as Canter Surrogate, a surrogate that belonged to Lionel Canter's son.
- Trevor Donovan as Surrogate Tom Greer
- Michael Cudlitz as Colonel Brendon, an Army colonel in charge of finding a weapon built by VSI as dangerous to other operators.
- Devin Ratray as Bobby Saunders, the administrator of the FBI computer system that controls the surrogate network.
- Helena Mattsson as Cameron McAllister, a blonde female surrogate.
- Shane Dzicek as Jarod Canter, Dr. Lionel Canter's son. He was murdered by an assassin from VSI.
- Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro as himself (cameo performance)
- Dr. Takeo Kanade as himself (cameo performance)
Production[edit | edit source]
In March 2007, Disney acquired feature film rights to the 2005–2006 comic book series The Surrogates with the intent to distribute under Touchstone Pictures. The project was conceived by Max Handelman and Elizabeth Banks through Brownstone Productions, and they enlisted producer Todd Lieberman to move it forward. Under Disney, Jonathan Mostow was attached to direct the film based on an adapted screenplay by Michael Ferris and John Brancato. The following November, Bruce Willis was cast to star in the lead role. Filming was scheduled to begin in February 2008 in Lynn, Massachusetts. It was delayed, beginning on April 29, 2008 in Woburn. Filming then took place in the Massachusetts cities of Lynn, Worcester, Milford, Hopedale, Taunton, Lawrence and Wayland. Visual effects were handled by Sandbox FX, Brickyard VFX, Industrial Light and Magic and Moving Picture Company.
Release[edit | edit source]
Surrogates hosted its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California on September 24, 2009. It was released the next day in North American cinemas by Touchstone Pictures to lukewarm reviews from film critics. The Motion Picture Association of America gave the film a PG-13 rating for "intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, language, sexuality and a drug-related scene."
Home media[edit | edit source]
The DVD and Blu-ray were released on January 26, 2010. The Blu-ray version features four deleted scenes, a commentary by director Jonathan Mostow, and 2 featurettes. The movie has sold 713,851 units, which gives it a total gross of $12,052,466 in DVD sales.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Critical response[edit | edit source]
Surrogates was not pre-screened for critics. As of June 2020[update], the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 37%, based on 115 reviews, and an average rating of 5.33/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Though it sports a slick look and feel, Surrogates fails to capitalize on a promising premise, relying instead on mindless action and a poor script". Metacritic gave the film an average score of 45 out of 100 based on 21 critic reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C" on an A+ to F scale.
IGN gave the film a 6.0/10, saying that "it provides a competently made, relatively predictable and slickly presented piece of genre entertainment, offering just the right amount of action beats and futuristic visuals to keep the viewer engaged without ever having an actual thought. It's good, escapist fun". Yahoo! Movies gave it a grade "C+" based on 10 reviews.
Entertainment WeeklyTemplate:'s Lisa Schwarzbaum concluded her positive review saying that "there's fun robot stuff, some good philosophical ideas, and a brief, nutty Willis–Ving Rhames reunion 15 years after Pulp Fiction". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2½ stars out of 4. Ebert wrote that "while more ambitious than it has to be, the film descends into action scenes too quickly. … Surrogates is entertaining and ingenious, but it settles too soon for formula." He also says, "The concept, based on a graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele, would lead naturally to intriguing considerations." Some critics, however, were not too favorable to the film: Claudia Puig of USA Today called it "a poor substitute of sci-fi thriller saying that the tone of the movie is rarely satirical and that it's more concerned with political intrigue involving pockets of anti-surrogate protesters that enjoy bludgeoning the machines." Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel gave it a negative review, writing "watchable, but obvious… Surrogates never manages to be anything more than a poor substitute for the real thing."
Jordan Hoffman of UGO Entertainment gave Surrogates a B+ rating, saying it is intellectually stimulating enough to keep you intrigued while never forgetting its obligation as B movie fun. Todd McCarthy of Variety described it as an intense and eerily plausible science fiction thriller.
Box office[edit | edit source]
Surrogates played at 2,992 theaters. On its opening weekend, it grossed to $14,902,692, averaging $5,050 per theater, ranking #2 at the U.S. box office, behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. For the second weekend of Oct 2–4, it saw a 45% decrease where it dropped down to 4th place at the box office only to gross $7,241,054. The third domestic weekend release saw a 36% decrease, which was 9% less than its last weekend. The film went on to gross $38,577,772 domestically and $83,867,000 internationally, giving it a worldwide gross of $122,444,772.
References[edit | edit source]
- Surrogates (2009). BBFC.
- Movie projector: 'Surrogates' and 'Fame' arrive on what looks to be a slow weekend, LA Times, September 24, 2009
- Surrogates (2009). Retrieved on December 9, 2009.
- The Surrogates. ComingSoon.net. Coming Soon Media, L.P. Retrieved on July 15, 2008.
- Sheehan, Nancy. "Hollywood heads to Worcester", Telegram & Gazette, April 25, 2008. Retrieved on June 19, 2009.
- "Hollywood sign war grips Milford", Boston Herald, Herald Media Inc., June 29, 2008. Retrieved on July 28, 2008.
- "Actor Willis In Bay State To Film Movie", thebostonchannel.com, WCVB-TV, July 3, 2008. Retrieved on July 28, 2008.
- "‘Armageddon’ in Lawrence: Willis films at city mills", eagletribune.com, The Eagle-Tribune, June 15, 2008. Retrieved on May 23, 2009.
- "First Leo, Now Bruce", Taunton Daily Gazette, The Taunton Gazette, June 3, 2008. Retrieved on August 2, 2008.
- "Movie crew descends on Wayland — Framingham, MA", May 8, 2008. Retrieved on April 4, 2009.
- Brokaw, Leslie. "Film boom's special effect", The Boston Globe, The New York Times Company, June 29, 2008. Retrieved on July 28, 2008.
- Surrogates DVD Sales. Retrieved on August 31, 2010.
- Ryan, Tim (September 24, 2009). Critics Consensus: Surrogates Is A Passable Thriller. Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved on August 9, 2011.
- Surrogates (2009). Retrieved on 2 June 2020.
- Surrogates at Metacritic Retrieved March 15, 2018
- CinemaScore. cinemascore.com.
- Surrogates (2009). Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved on October 27, 2009.
- Schwarzbaum, Lisa. "Surrogates", Entertainment Weekly, September 23, 2009. Retrieved on July 14, 2011.
- Ebert, Roger. "Surrogates", RogerEbert.com, Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved on March 15, 2018.
- Claudia Puig. "Surrogates oozes possibilities", USA Today, September 27, 2009. Retrieved on July 14, 2011.
- Roger Moore. "Adapted from a comic book", Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved on July 14, 2011.
- Jordan Hoffman. Surrogates is a fun B sci fi flick that makes you think. . .but not too much.. UGO Entertainment.
- Todd McCarthy. "Surrogates Review", Variety, September 24, 2009. Retrieved on February 2, 2011.
- Randy Henderson."Surrogates: Sci Fi’s Power to Make You Go Hmmm".
- "Bruce Willis Does Odder Version of David Brin’s Kiln People".