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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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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Pope Francis said, “The Church gives us the life of faith in Baptism: that is the moment in which she gives birth to us as children of God, the moment she gives us the life of God, she engenders us as a mother would.”

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