Imagine a world where you can do anything without any risks. Ski, surf, wage war, having sex, go to work, cross the street and everything in between are now safer than ever in this “near future” thanks to the Surrogates, a technology that allows you to control a virtual self from the comfort of your home. People won't even notice if you don't shave, gain some weight or are a guy controlling a female body. Everything is perfect. Except maybe for agent Greer (Bruce Willis) who starts questioning is way of “life.” This reflection will be precipitated when a murder occurs (the first in many years) and that his operator suffers the backlash of his virtual body being destroyed (also a first). On the trace of the mysterious criminal, Greer will discover that he might still more human than he thinks...
Before getting further, I have to mention that I had just read the graphic novel prior to watching the movie and I will try to avoid any comparison and judge the movie on its own.
The Surrogates' script is what you can expect from a decent action/science-fiction movie. I honestly expected a more extensive take on the science-fiction elements and I was a bit disappointed by how the movie just barely scratches the surface of something that could have been more fully exploited. Yes there are additions, news and a way of life depicted that show us how the world as changed but it just feel a bit superficial. Luckily, the way the characters are portrayed compared to their surrogates help us understand a bit better the duality that exist in this future society but I would have liked to see this element more fully exploited.
The other aspects of the movie, such as the directing and the acting, also fall in the “almost” category. Director Jonathan Mostow does a decent job at creating scenes that reflect the different moods of the movie (action, suspense, loneliness, etc) but never really creates something really unique. Even the actors are doing well but are maybe not performing at the top of their games. The exception would be when they play both the operator and the surrogate. The difference between the two would not have been so noticeable if they had not been done so well.
The special effects are one of the things I particularly appreciated in this movie and mainly because they are not overdone. Most film with science-fiction elements often fall for the “if it's in the future it's should definitely be bigger and over-the-top” but The Surrogates avoid that trap and really makes us feel as if the world depicted can be our tomorrow. The added military scenes (which were not in the comics) were a nice addition.
Bottom line, The Surrogates is a middle-class science-fiction movie. It might not be memorable but it was quite enjoyable and I think I would have appreciated it even more if I had not read the comic book before (which was very good by the way).