Jonathan Mostow’s Surrogates gets little right. Its first crucial misstep is an inability to properly set up its own fiction, positing a world in which people now interact with each other and society via robotic avatars known as Surrogates, but failing to ever explain why such a radical development would be welcomed by humanity at large. The stated reason is to decrease crime and allow for fantasy fulfillment, but those aims seem at odds with each other – wouldn’t one of the prime kicks afforded by Surrogates be violent, even sadistic behavior? Regardless, the film’s story revolves around a detective (Bruce Willis) who, while investigating a case in which the destruction of a surrogate resulted in the death of its user, is forced to unplug and interface directly with reality, a radical act that’s thoroughly avoided by his wife (Rosamund Pike), who uses surrogacy as a means of coping with the death of their son. In this subplot, Surrogates locates a thematic avenue ripe for exploration – namely, the means by which artificial interactivity functions as a vehicle for denial. And again, Mostow’s film stumbles badly, treating its underlying issues of grief, fear and the inherently social nature of humanity cursorily so that it can concentrate on airbrushing its cast members when they’re plasticine surrogates – with Radha Mitchell coming closest to a vision of mechanized perfection – and staging dull chase sequences. Whether in scruffy human form or as a smooth-skinned, neatly coiffed machine, Willis seems plain bored, which is forgivable given that this nonsensical mystery has all the get-up-and-go of a dead battery.