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Surrogates

Year: 2009
Studio: Touchstone
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Writer: Michael Ferris/John Brancato
Cast: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames, Rosamund Pike

A lose-lose for everyone concerned. Audiences could have just read an article about how we spend too much time online. Disney could have just hired Bruce Willis and Jonathan Mostow to stand wagging their fingers at us for an hour and a half saying 'you spend too much time online' and got away with it a lot cheaper.

One thing Hollywood always gets right is tapping into the public mood. Hence when a phenomenon sweeps the world (AIDS, the Internet, Swin Flu, Twitter), there's a movie capitalising on it.

This movie capitalises on the general consensus that we spend too much time avoiding the world by communicating with the world via Blackberries and PCs thinking we're 'connecting', kids are getting obese and don't climb trees, etc etc.

It's not a bad premise for a movie and could have made a good one if only it had been handled with a little subtlety. Even word of the script is so desperate to be all zeitgeisty and topical it's a long, patronising lecture, every idea slapped over your head as if with a wet fish. Actually, it would have been a good movie if it'd had subtlety, a decent script, a bit of action and much better CGI.

In the future, we sit in our living rooms getting older, fatter and hairier, connected to machines that control younger, fitter, faster robot doubles of us to go about our business in the world. If you're FBI agent Bruce Willis, that means having the shoddiest CGI job removing your wrinkles and the worst hair since the last Nicolas Cage movie.

When there's an apparent murder, he and his partner are called in and get caught up in a conspiracy involving the reclusive inventor of the robot double industry (Cromwell) and a sealed off enclave containing a cult of unpluggers led by a charismatic leader (Rhames).

It's a generic chase thriller that follows the same plot as Chinatown and a million other 'random crime/murder/body leads to a far-reaching conspiracy' films so it's not hard to figure out where everything's going to end up.

That's if the surprising lack of thrills doesn't put you off first - when your big climax is a whole lot of people falling over in the street you know you have a scale problem.

The cack-handed approach to science fiction will also put you off, the film throwing so many big shiny silver doors and other clumsy sci-fi conventions around it's seemingly desperate to show off its credentials.

Much worse than you've heard.

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