Surrogates

 
(i)

 

Edgy sci-fi thriller is very violent; not for tweens/kids.
  • Review Date: September 25, 2009
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's basic message is that humankind is in great danger if human nature is sacrificed in favor of technological advancement. It suggests that isolating yourself and refusing to engage in the world will lead to passive self-destruction. The film also takes a harsh look at society's ideas of beauty and self worth. Each human operator creates a surrogate that conforms to the current popular notion of attractiveness and sex appeal, resulting in a society in which everyone is boringly young, thin, and gorgeous.

Positive role models

The hero is brave, honest, and resourceful. He's forced to make a weighty decision that's heavy with risk and consequence. The man responsible for the movie's bleak state of the world sees the error of his ways and tries to rescue humanity from the excesses of his own invention. The characters in whom the audience invest heavily all do the right thing when it counts.

Violence

Several humans are killed violently with futuristic weapons. Frequent shootings (many at point-blank range) of  "surrogates" who look human and are portrayed by humans. Dead bodies (also the surrogates) are seen falling to the ground en masse. Also lots of explosions, car crashes, bodies being "liquified," vicious beatings, helicopters crashing, car chases, people burning, heads being smashed, etc. Many images of bloody faces, bloody eyeballs, and human faces peeling to reveal machines beneath.

Sex

Sexy dancing with lots of erotic groping and thrusting in a crowded club scene. A newly acquainted couple engages in passionate kissing and sexual foreplay just before they're shot to death while roughly embracing.

Language

Brief, infrequent strong language, including one use of "s--t," plus words like "kickass," "dick," "ass," "damn," "crap," and "oh my God."

Consumerism

Prius is seen on screen.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One main character is addicted to drugs, as evidenced by large quantities of pills at her bedside. Some heavy drinking/drunkenness by the hero. One scene depicts futuristic drug use -- a blue liquid is injected into the veins of a large group of surrogate partygoers, sending them into spasms of ecstasy and hysteria.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Surrogates pushes the limits of its PG-13 rating. Yes, it's set in a futuristic world and most of the violence and mayhem is directed at robot "surrogates," but the images are still disturbingly bloody and destructive because these surrogates are portrayed by (and look exactly like) humans. There are lots of shootings with direct hits at close range, bodies flying through the air, multiple crashes that leave many dead or severely wounded, beatings, burnings, and explosions. Scenes graphically depict the extermination of the human replicas. Strong language is fairly infrequent but includes "s--t"; there's also a good bit of drinking, as well as some futuristic drug use. Sexual activity is portrayed in only a few scenes, but it's shown as casual and self-indulgent and involves promiscuity (but no nudity).

What's the story?

SURROGATES is set in a future in which most human beings ("operators") avoid relationships, activity, interaction, and participation in the simple act of living by isolating themselves in their homes and conducting their daily "public" lives via automated, perfect-looking, nearly indestructible robots known as "surries." Using their own surrogates, FBI Agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) and his partner are ordered to investigate the murder of the son of the mastermind of surrogate technology, Dr. Lionel Canter (James Cromwell). When Greer's own surry is destroyed, the real -- and now much more vulnerable -- FBI agent is forced from the insular safety of his operator's lair into the city streets. Efforts to solve the crime find Greer joining a contingent of the very few people who find the surrogate world unequivocally wrong. These hold-outs ("meatbags"), led by The Prophet (Ving Rhames), have been banished to reservations, where they attempt to counter the quietly menacing forces that have a hold on humanity.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Using a graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele as source material, director Jonathan Mostow and the screenwriters work hard to examine society's blind acceptance of the mechanization that's rapidly gaining on us -- and to reveal its dangers. Unfortunately, while the movie offers some intriguing visuals and imaginative and skillful action sequences -- along with an interesting premise -- the film is undone by wooden performances, a less-than-subtle message, twists that are easy to spot, and some ludicrous motivation. And a subplot about Greer's failing relationship with his wife after the death of their son is melodramatic and very thin.

Bottom line? This is a movie about humanity's disconnect that feels soulless and shallow, even disconnected itself.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. Does it have less impact because most of the victims are technically robots? Does the fact that they look more human than machine affect your reaction?

  • What is the movie saying about technology? Can you think of ways that technology could inhibit your active participation in life around you? Is there a way to safeguard against that?

  • All of the surrogates seem to be extremely beautiful, handsome, and very fit. What is the movie saying about how we see ourselves and the value we place on outward appearances?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 25, 2009
DVD release date:January 26, 2010
Cast:Bruce Willis, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames
Director:Jonathan Mostow
Studio:Touchstone Pictures
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, language, sexuality and a drug-related scene

This review of Surrogates was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byx I AM YOU x February 18, 2011
 

not bad...

i can handle gore and all that horror but i cant stand it when there is inappropriate touching and physical contact.or like when they say something about a body part that is unnecessary (difference between a boy and a girl).. that really irritates me!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old June 19, 2010
 

Okay

This movie was OK. It got a little boring and hard to follow at times, but some clever plot twists kept me engaged. I would rate it PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Violent Action, disturbing images, language, sexual content and a scene of drug use.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written bytweeni January 14, 2010
 

violent sci-fi thriller

this movie was exceptionally violent. people control surrogates so that they look young as they go about their everyday lives. there is a night club where a young boy and girl were kissing extremely passionately, and there is a lot of killing. a special weapon was created so that when a surrogate died, the person controlling it died as well. a whole feature nation was nearly wiped out with a certain weapon, and the main character finds himself frequently in tight spots. however, i think this movie was really good. i think its NOT for kids or tweens, and okay for mature teens. all in all, violent, but a great movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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