Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just Go Get Her, Bruce

"Surrogates" is another movie where a long-suffering Bruce Willis (Tom Greer) gets stomped half to death while making his way back to the woman he loves -- not that she's that far away. Unlike in the "Die Hard" movies, when his beloved anxiously awaits at the airport or on top of the skyscraper, Greer's wife is cocooned in a separate bedroom in their apartment, living her life by manipulating a high-tech robot that looks like a younger, happier her. FBI agent Greer works through a robot, too, which has hair and, like all the surrogates, a creepy, ductile complexion. Since surrogates were invented a few years before, billions of people around the world have taken to their high-tech beds, sending their robots out into the world to work, fight, and entertain themselves. Crime is down, but health care costs are probably skyrocketing since everybody from Boston to Beijing is a video game station potato.

A parable about technology run amok? It's not humanity's dependency on foxy robots that keeps Greer and his wife, Maggie (Rosamund Pike), apart. It's their inability to come to terms with the death of their son. The action of the movie commences when surrogacy's inventor (whose slogan is "Life...only better") secretly starts a revolution against it. But surrogacy is just another anesthetic, like drugs, texting, college football, or Cheetos. By setting the action in the nearly-now (surrogates are still driving 2008 Priuses), director Jonathan Mostow slyly reminds us that plenty of us are using currently available addictions and dodges to try to hold pain at bay. Greer begins to see the light when his hirsute surrogate cop is destroyed (and, tellingly, crucified) during a hot pursuit into a humans-only reservation. Sure, he saves the world, but in the end, he does what he could've done at the beginning. Desperate to reconnect with the woman he loves, he kicks her door in.

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