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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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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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