Surrogates or Blade Runner?” width=”560″/>
Now: Surrogates (2009)Then: Blade Runner (1982)
OK, maybe we’ve stacked the deck a bit this time. On the surface, Jonathan Mostow’s new Bruce Willis in-a-world-of-robots scifi flick Surrogates against Ridley Scott’s Harrison-Ford-on-the-hunt-for-robots scifi classic Blade Runner have little to do with one another. The new movie is a cautionary scifi thriller set in an orderly, antiseptic future where humans have allowed themselves to be replaced by robots; Blade Runner is an existential neo-noir set in a crowded, rain-soaked future where the robots are actually not allowed on Earth. But in comparing and contrasting these two very different movies, we can see how our attitudes about the future have changed in the intervening decades.
The Trouble With Robots
Surrogates: In the year 2017, the vast majority of humans have “surrogates” — customizable, life-like robots, through whom schlubby, mostly invalid humans experience the world.
Blade Runner: In the year 2019, “replicants” are used as slaves on Earth’s off-world colonies. Although they’re androids, the replicants are outfitted with their own memories, which to them seem remarkably real.
The Real Enemy?
Surrogates: A small group of humans who refuse surrogates live in reservations, where they listen to the rantings of The Prophet (Ving Rhames), a cult leader planning a violent human uprising that will do away with the surrogates — and possibly even their owners. But are humans the problem, or is it the ubiquitous robots that are replacing them?
Blade Runner: A small group of dangerous Nexus-6 replicants have fled to Earth and are hiding in Los Angeles, where their leader Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) wants to find a way to live beyond their brief, pre-determined life-span. But are these robots the problem, or the humans who have enslaved them?
Our Flawed Hero
Surrogates: FBI Agent Greer (Bruce Willis) and his wife lost a
young son, and now they barely speak. When Greer begins hunting for a
human with a powerful tool that can kill both surrogates and their
users, he is forced to question his view of reality and of what makes
Blade Runner: Scruffy, divorced, retired cop Rick Deckard
(Harrison Ford) is called back into service to “retire” the escaped
replicants. The more he hunts them down, however, the more he begins to
question his view of reality and of what makes us human.
The Visionary Who Started It All
Surrogates: Lionel Canter (James Cromwell) created the surrogates years ago. Now, however, the human resistance may be taking aim at him.
Blade Runner: Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel) has built a massive
corporate empire thanks to the development and sale of replicants. Now,
however, the replicants he created may be out to destroy him.
The Uplifting Message
Surrogates: Greer slowly comes to realize that the technological
constructs are keeping humans from embracing the real world around
them. We should never forget to live life to the fullest.
Blade Runner: Although the replicants are the movie’s nominal
villains, the downcast Deckard is rejuvenated by their passionate,
violent desire to live. See above.
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