Jonathan Mostow stumbles from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines to this I, Robot clone based on a graphic novel that displays none of the visual style one normally associates with these more literate comic book frames. A host of video game and graphic novel adapters find intriguing ways to approximate the look and feel of the gamer’s point-of-view perspective or the page panels, but Mostow, who made his mark initially with the high-grade B-movie stylings of Breakdown and U-571, isn’t thinking outside the right box here.
He’s playing the same old games with futurescapes that we’ve seen far too much recently, which are either of the dark and gritty variety or the zippy neon scenes that have a fake veneer imagined by a computer.
Bruce Willis allows himself to be used as a tool here, a familiar instrument with wit and a hardened form we’ve come to expect to be capable of handling its share of wear and tear. And while there is some promise in the premise of a world in which people live through indestructible mechanical avatars, Surrogates, with its dependence on CGI trickery, made me long for the days of real actors playing characters instead of lifeless placeholders. Grade: D-
Opens Sept. 25. Check out theaters and show times, see the film's trailer and get theater details here.