This is a story of cop Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) in a world where people live their lives through robotic surrogates that they control remotely through virtual computers. The moral of the story is spoken right up front in the narration by the human activist that “We weren’t made to live life through machines, “ and that “what it means to be human is to sacrifice yourself for a higher cause and purpose.” There are people living in surrogate free zones because they want to be more human. It turns out there is a weapon that will kill people through killing their surrogates, never possible before. But the big crime turns out to be the repentant creator of the surrogates attempting to download a virus that will breakdown every surrogate in the world so that people will be forced to life real life again. The movie is really just an amplification of the avatar “social networking” that already goes on online. People live through false identities, they choose to all be younger and prettier avatars than to accept themselves as they really are. They become shadows of themselves, projections of their fantasies rather than reality. They don’t want to face reality. They seek to experience the pleasures of life without having the consequences. But as a main character says, “we must sacrifice certain pleasures to be truly connected.” So the cop and his wife suffer from the loss of their son, and she seeks to stay in the false world, while the cop seeks to redeem their marriage and make the human connection in their real bodies and souls. By the end, when the virus works and all surrogates drop, we see a lot of fat people walking around outside in their pajamas dazed as what they have been missing in the real world, but certainly better for it – because “We were not meant to live life through machines.”
The world overpopulates and sends a ship of thousands of people to a distant planet to start over. But in the midst of the hyperspace sleep, some of them come to and realize that there are creatures hunting and killing survivors around the huge space ship. Turns out these creatures are some of the original passengers, who were accidentally mutated by being fed strange nuclear chemicals and turned them into predator monsters. Pandorum refers to the psychological state of coming out of hypersleep and becoming so disoriented that you go crazy and do things like killing everyone on board by jettisoning their pods into space. Of course, this is what happens to the captain who argues with the hero at the end about destroying lives on board. The captain who becomes a villain in his pandorum state says, “It’s easy when you free yourself from the chains of morality.” The theme of survival versus sacrifice and these mutated creatures are pure predators and the humans must save the rest of the hypersleep passengers on the ship by resetting the nuclear reactor on the ship. The story seems to be comparing pure survival and predatory nature with a moral approach to being human.