It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
In the future world of "Surrogates," most of the human population reclines at home without moving, while living vicariously through robot avatars controlled by their minds. They present themselves to the world as younger and more attractive than they really are -- and more fit, I assume, since the avatars work out at gyms instead of their owners. No one you meet is really there.
Bruce Willis, looking about 38 and with a healthy mop of hair, stars as Greer, an FBI agent. He and his partner Jennifer Peters (Radha Mitchell) are assigned to investigate a messy murder late one night outside a club, and are astonished to find that the victim is the son of Dr. Lionel Canter (James Cromwell), the inventor of surrogate technology. But wait a minute, you're thinking. Who dies if only your surrogate is killed? The unsettling answer is that the murder device works by frying the brain of its controller. I hate it when that happens.
Dr. Canter, no longer associated with the corporation that makes surrogates, has indeed grown disillusioned with his invention. As Agent Greer's investigation continues, it leads him into the world of the Dreads -- actual human beings, who reject surrogates and live on "reservations" with other flesh and blood people. The Dread leader is The Prophet (Ving Rhames of the eerie presence), who preaches against avatars as an abomination.
As indeed they are. It's a relief when something goes wrong with Greer's avatar and he must venture onto the streets as himself--middle-aged, bald, and looking, I must say, considerably more attractive than his creepy surrogate.