In the sci-fi thriller (watch the movie trailer), which opens on the big screen on 13 November, humans don't venture out into the world; instead, they send robot proxies, which they control with their brains and a special chair. Operators experience everything their surrogates do, with no risk of injury, illness or death. That is, until someone begins destroying the robots in a way that kills their operators, too. This is the central mystery that Agent Harvey Greer (Bruce Willis) must solve. The film takes place in the near future, and according to some scientists, the premise isn't that far from being a reality.
The script appealed to director Jonathan Mostow because "it was a spot-on metaphor of what it's like to live in the digital age," he told Popular Mechanics last month. "I just connected with the story on a gut level, like, wow, this is how I'm living. This is how everybody I know is living. I am the biggest gadget junkie in the world. I am addicted to the BlackBerry and the iPhone and e-mail. Yet at some level [all this technology] distances me from the moment-to-moment experience of living life for real. Every minute that I'm on my computer exchanging e-mails with people, that's time that I'm not spending with friends or family. [Greer] finds himself having this ambivalence [toward] the technology. He uses it. He depends on it. And at some level he realises that it is taking a part of his humanity."
Mostow, who also directed , says he's extremely dialed in to advancements in robotics. "I had done a lot of research in that area because it interests me," he says. "So I actually knew a fair amount about it. What was really cool about this movie was that it didn't take a lot of imagination to [think], yeah, that could really happen. And that's the hallmark of great science fiction—where the idea is simple because it feels like it's inevitable."