Saturday, October 03, 2009


This "Bruce Willis sci-fi actioner vehicle" was not as bad as I had feared.

We already have surrogates - sort of. Guys in recliners in Nevada flying Predator RPVs over Afghanistan. In this film pretty much everyone is at home in a recliner, wired-up and 'piloting' their humanoid surrogate at work and at play.

What's not to like? No more fear of mugging or accident (your surrogate may get it, but you're safe at home). Your incredibly-lifelike surrogate is more handsome/beautiful than you, stronger and younger. So folks, this is definitely going to happen, once they get the wireless broadband speeded up a bit, and figure out how to build them.

As an exercise in futurology this film was full of ideas. The military will want surrogates for close-quarters combat: we saw that. The sex industry will want them for enhanced appeal to clients and control of infection: we didn't see that!

But is there a danger we will replace the spontaneity and intimacy of human interaction with one-step-removed machine-mediated distance? Of course! How else could we get a plot?

So the founder of surrogacy has had second thoughts and is trying to get them all closed down, while the surrogate-manufacturing global corporation wants to close him down for their own protection. Off we go.

Surrogacy, in this context, is such a big idea that there is potential for a number of films to explore the implications. This one was content to aim no higher than B-movie status, with Willis seeming to sleepwalk through his part. It was kinda fun and a little bit thought-provoking, but no more.