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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Surrogates

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Bruce Willis stars in a scene from the movie "Surrogates."
"Life, only better." So runs the advertising slogan of the conglomerate whose technological breakthrough—the development of a race of ideal-looking robotic alter egos remote-controlled by their human owners' thoughts—provides the premise for the futuristic thriller "Surrogates" (Touchstone).

This generally intriguing cautionary tale begins with a series of flashbacks showing us the profound, and seemingly positive, social changes brought about by the use of these mechanical avatars. As more and more people opt to remain in the safety of their homes and live their lives vicariously through their surrogates, for example, the crime rate dwindles to nothing.

So law enforcement authorities are shocked when the college-aged son of the man who invented surrogacy—the wheelchair-bound scientist is played, at different ages, by James Francis Ginty and James Cromwell—is murdered. Adding to their bewilderment is the fact that the young man died because his surrogate was destroyed, something that was thought to be impossible.

Assigned to investigate the high-profile case, Boston-based FBI agents Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell) gradually uncover a conspiracy that appears to involve the above-mentioned corporation, the Army, and even a group of anti-surrogate activists whose dreadlocked leader calls himself the Prophet (Ving Rhames).

Off the job, Greer mourns for his little son, who was killed in an auto accident, and longs to reconnect with his wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike). But Maggie—whose grief has caused her to become addicted to prescription pills—refuses to interact with him except via her surrogate, fearing that Greer will reject her if he sees the graying, ravaged figure she has become.

Director Jonathan Mostow's adaptation of Robert Venditti's graphic novel The Surrogates dramatizes the perils of contemporary technology, especially its potential to cut us off from human contact and from the world of nature. Through Greer and Maggie's troubles, John Brancato and Michael Ferris' script also explores the spiritual values undergirding a successful marriage.

The film contains considerable action violence, drug use, brief sexual situations, a couple of uses of profanity and a few crude and crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
____________________________
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Gregory VII: The 10th century and the first half of the 11th were dark days for the Church, partly because the papacy was the pawn of various Roman families. In 1049, things began to change when Pope Leo IX, a reformer, was elected. He brought a young monk named Hildebrand to Rome as his counselor and special representative on important missions. He was to become Gregory VII. 
<p>Three evils plagued the Church then: simony (the buying and selling of sacred offices and things), the unlawful marriage of the clergy and lay investiture (kings and nobles controlling the appointment of Church officials). To all of these Hildebrand directed his reformer’s attention, first as counselor to the popes and later (1073-1085) as pope himself. </p><p>Gregory’s papal letters stress the role of bishop of Rome as the vicar of Christ and the visible center of unity in the Church. He is well known for his long dispute with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over who should control the selection of bishops and abbots. </p><p>Gregory fiercely resisted any attack on the liberty of the Church. For this he suffered and finally died in exile. He said, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.” Thirty years later the Church finally won its struggle against lay investiture.</p> American Catholic Blog In Christ, true God and true man, our humanity was taken to God. Christ opened the path to us. If we entrust our life to him, if we let ourselves be guided by him, we are certain to be in safe hands, in the hands of our Savior.

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