Surrogates. In 2025, widespread use of remotely controlled androids called “surrogates” allows everyone to live in idealized forms from the safety of their homes.
In contrast to their surrogates, the human operators are depicted as slovenly and homebound.
A surrogate’s operator is protected from harm and feels no pain when the surrogate is damaged.
In Boston, FBI agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) has a strained relationship with his wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike), as a result of their son’s death several years before.
He never sees her outside of her surrogate and she criticizes his desire to interact via their real bodies.
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Tom and his partner, Agent Jennifer Peters (Radha Mitchell), investigate the death of two people who were killed when their surrogates were destroyed at a club. Jarid Canter (Shane Dzicek), one of the victims, is the son of Dr. Lionel Canter (James Cromwell), the inventor of surrogates and the former head of their manufacturing company, VSI.
Tom and Jennifer determine that a human named Miles Strickland (Jack Noseworthy) used a new type of weapon to overload the surrogates’ systems and kill their operators. After locating Strickland, Tom attempts to bring him into custody. Strickland uses the weapon and injures Tom during the chase; Tom inadvertently crash-lands into an anti-surrogate zone known as the Dread Reservation (one of many throughout the United States).
A mob of humans destroys Tom’s surrogate, forcing him to interact in the world without one. The Dread leader known as The Prophet (Ving Rhames) kills Strickland and confiscates the weapon.
Tom learns from Colonel Brendan (Michael Cudlitz) that VSI originally produced the weapon under a government contract. It was designed to load a virus that overloads the surrogate’s systems, thus disabling it. Unexpectedly, the weapon also disabled the fail-safe protocols protecting operators.
After the test, the project was scrapped and all prototypes were supposedly destroyed. Tom is also informed that Andrew Stone (Boris Kodjoe), his FBI superior, supplied the weapon to Strickland and ordered Dr. Canter’s assassination, upon VSI’s request, for his criticism of surrogate use. Jarid, using one of his father’s many surrogates, was killed instead.
Jennifer is murdered in her own home by an unknown man who hijacks her surrogate, and the Prophet orders the weapon be delivered to her. During a military raid on the reservation led by Col. Brendan, the Prophet is shot, revealing his identity as a surrogate, with none other than Dr. Canter himself as the operator.