"Surrogate" has good concept, but spirals by end of film

Never has a movie take an incredible concept and muck it up through the film’s trailers and TV spots.
In the vein of the Will Smith vehicle I, Robot (where robots are subservient to the humans), Surrogates takes it a step further. In an alternate world, 98% of the world population is using “surrogates”, which are robots they can operate from the confines of their home in order to live out their wildest fantasy without fear or harming themselves. The other 2% of the population are part of a rebellious group known as The Dreads. They are opposed to the idea of surrogacy and are lead by a man known as The Prophet (Ving Rhames).
Somewhere in Boston, there is a murderer on the loose who is using a high-tech device called that not only the operations of surrogates, but liquefies the brains of their owners hooked to their surrogates. It is up to FBI Special Agent Greer (Bruce Willis), who must disconnect from his surrogate to find out who is behind the murders and why.
Surrogates allows the filmmakers to explore the concept of today’s robotic technology and the role-playing gaming world a la Second Life to combine a cautionary tale that is refreshing to the science fiction genre. In the pre-title credit sequences, there a certain amount of real news footage based on robotic technology. This becomes a platform for the audience to believe this could happen in the nearby future.
The acting in this movie is as stiff as the robots in the film. Bruce Willis is the only saving grace when it comes to the acting in this film. He needs to escape from the real world through his surrogate in order to cope with the loss of his son. His wife (Rosamund Pike) is addicted to new technology as she refuses to do anything that does not involve her surrogate. When is separate from his surrogate, his character has to get use to being in the real world as he stands out like a sore thumb in the world of filled with robots that look like supermodels. There is also a treat for Pulp Fiction fans as they are given a brief scene with the reunion of Willis and Rhames, who overacts and looks absolutely ridiculous in dreadlocks and a bushy beard.
The script is littered with several abbreviations and new terminology for this alternate world that sometimes it is hard to determine what the meaning of the words, whether someone is using an OD (overdrive device) or they are into “jacking” (the surrogate equivalent of getting inebriated).
The film may look an all-out action film, but it really feels like an episode of Law & Order with robots. The main focus on the film is the investigation of who is killing people and destroying their surrogates with an unknown device. At the length of 88 minutes, the movie feels extremely slow as many plot twists begin to unravel a catastrophic event that involve a million casualties.
The most frustrating thing about watching this film is that the majority of the action sequences that occur in the movie have already been exposed for a great length of time through the studio’s promotional campaign. Based on that, I would recommend that anyone who is planning to see or has an interest in this film should avoid seeing the film’s trailer and television spots. Otherwise, you are not going to miss much when it comes to the action in the movie.
Surrogates has a great concept from the get-go but it is more like a noir-film then a slam-bang action film with explosions and the only acting that is sufficient in this movie is Bruce Willis’ performance.
SURROGATES 2/5 stars

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