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Surrogates is a 2009 science fiction film, based on the 2005–2006 comic book series of the same name. Directed by Jonathan Mostow, it stars Bruce Willis, and Radha Mitchell. The film revolves around the mysterious murder of a college student linked to the man who helped create a high-tech surrogate phenomenon that allows people to purchase unflawed robotic versions of themselves, being fit and good looking remotely controlled machines that ultimately assume their life roles, enabling people to experience life vicariously from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Surrogates was released on September 25, 2009. Rosamund Pike, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames, and Boris Kodjoe co-star.


In 2017, people live in near-total isolation, rarely leaving the safety and comfort of their homes, thanks to remotely-controlled robotic bodies that serve as "surrogates," designed as better-looking versions of their human operators. Because people are safe all the time, and damage done to a surrogate is not felt by its owner, it is a peaceful world free from fear, pain, and crime.

Agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) is an FBImarker agent who, through the use of his own surrogate, investigates the first murder in years: Jarod Canter, a college student and the son of Dr. Lionel Canter (James Cromwell), the original inventor of surrogates. Jarod, who like his father used multiple surrogates, inexplicably died when his surrogate was destroyed. The case grows more complicated, however, when several police officers are murdered when their surrogates are destroyed.

Greer's investigation leads him to the Dreads, a group of people led by a mysterious man known only as The Prophet (Ving Rhames) who is against the use of surrogates. Greer and his partner Jennifer Peters (Radha Mitchell) determine that the identity of the murderer is a Dread named Miles Strickland. Strickland used a unique weapon called an O.D. (Overload Device) to kill Jarod as well as five police officers tracking him. Greer himself barely escapes death by the weapon. Although his surrogate is physically damaged, it is able to pursue Strickland before it is destroyed by the Dreads.

Suffering damages from the weapon, Greer is found in his apartment by his wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike). She prefers interacting through her surrogate, even with her husband in the privacy of their home. We learn that the couple is particularly distant from each other as they grieve over their young son who died in a car accident. (We see that, from the brief scenes in the film including the real Maggie, she is severely depressed and simultaneously takes many medications.) Greer is taken to the hospital and survives, although he is suspended and will not be provided with another surrogate while his actions are investigated.

At the Dread Reservation, Strickland is approached by The Prophet who demands information about the weapon. Strickland is apparently killed by The Prophet or his followers. When Greer goes into the Reservation, he stumbles upon Strickland's funeral and then approaches The Prophet, asking about the weapon Strickland used. As Greer leaves the Reservation, it is revealed that The Prophet has the weapon. Greer meets with Dr. Canter, again using one of his surrogates, who suggests the weapon was manufactured by the military. Greer meets with a member of the military and learns that the weapon sends a computer virus into the surrogates that shuts them down, but it also disables the fail-safe mechanisms which shield the operator from harm, thus killing them.

A mysterious surrogate goes to the home of Greer's partner Peters and kills her, then transfers control of her surrogate to an unknown party who uses it to go through the financial records of the FBI. Peters' surrogate learns that Andrew Stone (Boris Kodjoe), Peters and Greer's boss, is apparently behind the death of Jarod, having been assigned by the company that creates the surrogates to kill Dr. Canter which he in turn assigned to Strickland. Jarod was using one of his father's surrogates and as such was mistaken for him. At the Dread compound, The Prophet orders delivery of the weapon to Peters just before the military attacks. The Prophet and his men are killed, but The Prophet is revealed to be a surrogate of Doctor Canter. Peters' surrogate tricks Greer into getting information about the weapon from Stone's computer. Peters' surrogate then flees from Greer, taking the information and the weapon. Greer chases her, but she escapes and goes to FBI headquarters where she takes a human system administrator (who does not use a surrogate) hostage and hooks the weapon up the surrogate network to kill all the surrogate operators.

Greer calls the system administrator who reveals that Peters has taken him hostage. Greer heads to Canter's home and forces his way in. At the FBI building, Peters' surrogate, now revealed to be controlled by Canter, confronts Stone's surrogate. Stone confirms he did try to have Canter assassinated. Canter uses the weapon to destroy Stone's surrogate and kill Stone for killing his son. He then returns to uploading the weapon's virus to all the surrogates, which will destroy them and kill their operators. Greer makes his way through Canter's mansion and finds Canter, who then reveals he wants to destroy the surrogates and the people who use them. Canter expresses anger and regret over the fact that his original purpose for inventing surrogates has been hijacked by VSI in the name of profit and by the masses for their own selfish reasons. Being a paraplegic, his vision was to give physically disabled individuals a chance at experiencing what they do not have. Canter has already started the destruction process through Peters' surrogate, and then kills himself via a cyanide pill.

Greer takes control of Peters' surrogate. With the assistance of the system administrator, Greer insulates the surrogate operators so they will survive even if the surrogates go down. He is then given the choice of whether or not to save the surrogates. FBI agents storm the room as Greer decides not to cancel the transmission. The virus from the weapon uploads and permanently shuts down every surrogate worldwide, leaving their operators alive, but having to go back to using their real bodies again. Greer goes home and meets his wife in her real body. Media broadcasts reveal the surrogates are down worldwide and no one knows if they will ever be able to be reinstated.


  • Bruce Willis as Agent Tom Greer, an FBI agent who investigates the murder of others' surrogates

  • Ving Rhames as The Prophet, a cult figure who disdains surrogates and plans an uprising

  • Boris Kodjoe as Andrew Stone, Peters and Greer's supervisor at the FBI


In March 2007, Disney acquired feature film rights to the 2005–2006 comic book series The Surrogates with the intent to distribute under Touchstone Pictures. The project was conceived by Max Handelman and Elizabeth Banks (Handelman's wife who is better known for her acting), and they enlisted producer Todd Lieberman to move it forward. Under Disney, Jonathan Mostow was attached to direct the film based on an adapted screenplay by Michael Ferris and John Brancato. The following November, Bruce Willis was cast to star in the lead role. Filming was scheduled to begin in February 2008 in Lynn, Massachusettsmarker. It was delayed, beginning on April 29, 2008 in Woburn. Filming took place in the Massachusetts cities Worcestermarker, Milfordmarker, Hopedalemarker, Tauntonmarker, Lawrencemarker, and Waylandmarker. Visual effects were handled by Sandbox FX, Brickyard VFX, Industrial Light and Magic and Moving Picture Company. The band Breaking Benjamin's song I Will Not Bow was featured in the end credits of the film.


Critical reception

Surrogates overall received mixed reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, Based 98 reviews, the film currently has a 39% rating with 99 reviews (39 "fresh", 60 "rotten"), while the "Top Critics" gave it a rating of 45% with a consensus that "Though it sports a slick look and feel, Surrogates fails to capitalize on a promising premise, relying instead on mindless action and a poor script". Metacritic gives the film an average score of 47, based on 19 reviews. Yahoo! Movies currently reports a grade of "C+" based on 10 reviews..

Box office

On its opening weekend, Surrogates grossed about $15 million, ranking #2 at the box office, behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. To date the film has grossed $60,395,223 worldwide with more openings to come.


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