A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Not much in terms of positive messages, as a character living with mental illness is largely ignored by family and strangers. The movie asks questions about what might have been done differently had they been offered help.
Positive Role Models
Joseph is an airport security operator who under extreme stress has a nervous breakdown and experiences psychosis. Joseph's dad is ruthless and cold. His mother is distant but loving. The people Joseph encounters are just going about their lives, but nobody helps him or asks if he's OK when he's clearly in distress and danger.
Central to the story is a character living with mental illness. Though their actions are at times dangerous and unpredictable, the movie's depiction of their personality disorder is realistic, sympathetic, and does not judge or condemn them. London is accurately depicted as being populated with a diverse group of people.
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Violence & Scariness
A character bites a drinking glass, cutting their mouth and creating a gory wound. They spit blood into the sink. A character riding a quad bike collides with a car and receives bloody wounds. Character is beaten up and suffers bloody wounds during a fight. Character robs banks using a note stating they have a weapon.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters kiss and have sex while clothed. Character imitates performing oral sex. Buttocks visible when character gets into bed naked.
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Frequent use of "s--t" and "f--k." One use of "c--t." Also "bollocks" and "bloody hell," as well as British slang "twat" and "shat."
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Products & Purchases
Mention of the supermarket Tesco.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
During a wedding speech, there is mention of the drug ketamine. Character drinks wine at a wedding.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Surge is a tense, frantic, and gripping British thriller about a man who experiences a nervous breakdown due to loneliness and stress. Although Joseph's (Ben Whishaw) actions are at times dangerous, criminal, and unpredictable, the movie's depiction of the character's personality disorder and psychosis is realistic, sympathetic, and does not judge or condemn him. Joseph is largely ignored at home and at work. Nobody, including his parents, takes the time to ask if he's OK, even when he's in the midst of his breakdown. While experiencing psychotic episodes, Joseph robs banks, is involved in a road traffic accident, and is in a brutal fight. Injury detail is bloody and includes glass embedded in his lip after biting and smashing a drinking glass. The movie has frequent strong language, which includes one use of "c--t," and multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bollocks," and more. A couple kiss and have sex, although there is no nudity. Male buttocks are shown in a non-sexual scene. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This excellent British thriller is an empathetic depiction of loneliness, stress, and mental illness. There's no finger-pointing or righteous indignation in Surge. Just observation and understanding of a realistic, yet tragic situation. Director Aneil Karia keeps the camera on the remarkable Whishaw at all times. We're at his joyless birthday party with his parents and we're anonymous alongside him at his job. The loneliness and despair is infectious. He's in the thick of London's city but entirely alone. When he snaps, he breaks out of his mental cage and doesn't know what to do with his freedom. The handheld camera keeps up at his dizzying pace as the city he's not part of rushes by in a blur.
Whishaw's honest depiction is both astonishing and almost unbearable. Each time we cross another line where intervention might have changed his path, your heart breaks a little bit more. Add its loaded social commentary, bank robberies, impulsive sex, black humor, car crashes, and fist fights, and Surge is a thrilling movie with a lingering message.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Movies That Feature Characters Living with Mental Illness
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