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Surrogates, An Extreme In Alter Egos
Surrogates, is a cautionary tale of how we could end up living, if we continue to isolate ourselves from one another and pursue only our own personal indulgences. The movie begins with a descriptions of how the surrogate culture came to be. A summary is given on how fourteen years earlier Dr. Lionel Canter, an inventor (played by James Cromwell), invented surrogates, which are a type of android. Dr. Canter’s purpose was to help people who were paralyzed to live some form of normal life, by controlling an artificial version of themselves through neurons in their brains. After the initial invention was produced, the military started using surrogates to fight in the battle field, for obvious reasons. This made surrogates more affordable and soon ninety eight percent of the world’s population wanted to own their own surrogate.
On the surface this seemed to be the making of a true utopia, underneath all this "beauty" is a horror and a perversion. Imagine a world were the majority of mankind are shut ins laying on a reclining chair, while having some android live out their lives for them. This includes their jobs, entertainment, social interactions and even sex lives. The androids are normally a younger, stronger and more beautiful version of the person controlling it.
Not all of humanity has fallen for living vicariously through some android. There is a resistance movement, formed by people who do not want to live their lives through some robots. These people live on reservations in the major cities and live separate lives, from the rest of society. Their leader is a man known as the Prophet (played by Ving Rhames). The resisters are called Dreads and they feel that living vicariously through an android is a perversion of nature and are hoping that the world will go back to being human again.
The movie begins when Dr. Canter’s son, Jarid Canter (played by James Francis Ginty) goes clubbing for the night. Instead of using his own physical body, his surrogate does the clubbing for him. Canter’s surrogate goes to a night club full of other surrogates and hooks up with a very attractive blond surrogate. They decide to get physical in the back of the nightclub. In the meantime, a young man on a motorbike carrying a weapon saps both Canter and his desirable blond conquest and rides away. This causes a truck to turn over and the collision causes massive damage.
Agent Tom Greer (played by Bruce Willis) and Agent Jennifer Peters (played by Radha Mitchell) from the FBI are sent to investigate. These two do not come in their human forms. Their surrogates are sent to represent these two agents. At the scene of the crime when collecting evidence they find that the optic piece of both Canter’s surrogate and the sexy blond's surrogate have been burned out. They follow the few leads that they are given. They then go on a mission to find the identity of the operators. They first go to a house, where they find a dead, overweight man laying on a reclining chair. Apparently, the weapon did not only allow the gun man to kill the surrogate, but the weapon also melted the brain in the operator’s skull, as well.
A few days later Canter’s roommate notices a nasty odor coming from their room. When he enters he find Jarid dead and his brain has been melted in his skull as well. As you can see, having a surrogate allowed the operator to live out even the most perverted of fantasies, since it is obvious that the operator living vicariously through the sexy blond was a man. Greer and his partner Peters conduct a thorough investigation that leads them to Dr. Canter’s house. Dr. Canter is overcome with emotion, when he realizes that he may be responsible for the death of his son. Greer and Peters conduct a series of investigations. This leads Greer to the reservation where the Dreads resided. There is a chase between Greer and the man hired to kill Canter, Miles Strickland (played by Jack Noseworthy). In the struggle between Greer and Strickland Greer ends up loosing his surrogate and Greer the man has to be rushed to the hospital. He is also dismissed from the FBI, for crossing over into Dread territory. Greer is determined to resolve this crime. Strickland did not only kill Canter’s son, but also five police men as well.
In the Dread reservation the Prophet has a talk with Strickland and has him killed for his violation of the Dread’s laws by bringing in a surrogate, when only humans were allowed in Dread territory. The Prophet has the secret weapon and wants it delivered to Peters, who is secretly working on project, to not only kills of all the surrogates, but their operators as well.
Greer now forced to live his life as a man and face reality is starting to realize that having a surrogate had its flaws. He is also unaware of Peter’s agenda. Greer has a talk with the Prophet and the Prophet tells him that they will overcome and the world will be human once more. The Prophet is the killed and it is discovered that he to was a surrogate.
Greer in an effort to retain the weapon, goes to Dr. Canter house and is confronted by Dr. Canter himself. It is then that Greer discovers that Dr. Canter was the Prophet and Agent Robins and that he had a plan to end the surrogate project and kill all the operates. He expresses his regret for having started the project in the following statement: “Surrogacy is a perversion. It's an addiction. And you have to kill the addict to kill the addiction.” Greer and Caner have struggle and Canter commits suicide. It is up to Greer to save billions of people.
Robins is at the control station, operated by the controller commander (played by Edward McKabe), she has him tied and gagged and she is downloading the virus into his computer, that will not only end with all surrogates, but kill the operators as well. Greer gets to the station before Peters has a chance to download the virus. He then with the help of the controller commander able to modify the virus so that the surrogates are cut of, yet sparring their controllers.
Humanity is saved and people will now have to learn to live life in the flesh and not vicariously through some android. One can only wonder, is their hope for this society, or are they still addicts? There’s only one way to truly end with this perversion. The solution is stated by the Prophet, in the following statement: “Look at yourselves. Unplug from your chairs, get up and look in the mirror. What you see is how God made you. We're not meant to experience the world through a machine.”
Man has throughout history tried to create utopias of many kinds. Whether the means be through ideologies, war or machines, it all amounts to the same thing, a lie. This reminds me of what the control voice said at the end of The Outer Limits episode, “The Stream of Consciousness” The control voice stated the following at the conclusion of that episode “We make tools to extend our abilities, to further our reach, and fulfill our aspirations. But we must never let them define us. For if there is no difference between tool and maker, then who will be left to build the world?” Therefore when we create tools to make our lives more productive we must be very careful not to let ourselves get carried away, and we must never let our inventions define us.