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Stars: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Francis Ginty, Michael Cudlitz, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames

Director: Jonathan Moscow

Here’s yet another riff on the familiar enough theme of un-human doppelgangers as featured in movies like Westworld, The Stepford Wives and I, Robot. Or for those seeking subtext (as an intellectual excuse for simply enjoying enjoyable films?) is there another, more behind-the-camera subtext in Mostow’s movie? I refer, of course, to stand-ins and stunt doubles who are the lifeblood of the movies and the usually unsung doppelgangers for those stars who prefer not (or are not allowed) to do their own stunts.

Here, in the near future, crime has been eliminated and people enjoy hedonistic lifestyles remotely, from the safety of their homes, sending out their younger-looking surrogates to savour real life for them. Then, horrifyingly, the first murder in ages happens. FBI agent Willis, or rather his blond-haired waxy-faced surrogate, investigates with surrogate partner Mitchell and uncovers a sinister conspiracy that forces him to abandon his alter ego and boldly go forth as his balding, goatee-bearded self (and real-life stuntman?) and risk his life to save the day. (Careful watchers should spot the bad guy long before Willis but then, as often happens, the hero is given fewer clues than the audience).

Mostow moves the proceedings fast enough to cover most plot-holes, impressive special effects add an extra visual-dramatic punch and if the final result is unlikely to linger long in the memory (the relatively short running time probably presages a forthcoming director’s cut), genre and thriller buffs should not feel short-changed.

Alan Frank

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Colour.
89 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 25 Sep 2009