**/**** Image C+ Sound A- Extras B
starring Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Ving Rhames
screenplay by John Brancato & Michael Ferris, based on the graphic novel by Robert Vendetti and Brett Weldele
directed by Jonathan Mostow
by Ian Pugh Fittingly, Surrogates is a patchwork substitute for any number of recent films that informed it. (All things considered, the '05-'06 comic series from which the movie spawned may be the least of its sources.) Just look at its pedigree. Given that it's about the schism between mortal man and unstoppable machine, it's the second Terminator film for both director Jonathan Mostow (after Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) and star Bruce Willis (after Live Free or Die Hard), the third for screenwriters Michael Ferris and John Brancato (after T3 and Terminator Salvation), and perhaps the six-thousandth for 2009 alone--the latest in a long line of pictures that put the human soul behind the wheel of an automaton. Willis's Tom Greer is prescribed the usual problems--dead son, distant wife (Rosamund Pike)--of a rough-and-tumble movie cop, and from there, Surrogates cribs WALL·E's missive about the dangers of excessive comfort and The Dark Knight's casual nihilism in exploring the weakness of flesh-and-blood. Almost exclusively cobbled together from recent trends in American cinema, there's no denying its overfamiliarity--every twist and turn the movie has to offer is obvious at least forty-five minutes in advance. But as potentially the last straight action flick of the decade, Surrogates' derivative nature manages the improbable: it compacts the zeitgeist into a neat little package.