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In the not too distant future, humanity has become completely dependent on robot surrogates to do nearly every physical activity for them in the world outside of their homes. Sitting in a chair and plugged into the network, people view, hear, and touch the world through their better-looking, stronger, and more capable robot selves.
Humanity is far safer than ever before, but all of that is about to change. When fired at a surrogate, a new weapon also kills the surrogate’s human operator—and someone is trying to use it to kill the Dr. Cantor (James Cromwell), the human inventor of surrogates.
Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) and his partner (Radha Mitchell) try to track down the killer and recover the weapon, which eventually falls into the hands of The Prophet (Ving Rhames). The Prophet is the de facto leader of the “meatbags,” people who believe the use of surrogates is evil and want to stop it however possible.
With his own surrogate disabled—and his relationship with his wife (Rosamund Pike) on the brink after the accidental death of their young son—Greer chases down the bad guys as his aging, human self.
Robot surrogates that look like people get bashed, shot, run over, and blasted in the eyes by that super-weapon. When that happens, their operators back home also die with lots of blood from their burned out eye sockets. Willis gets pummeled repeatedly, contributing to his tough-but-vulnerable older guy look. One character commits suicide. It is strongly suggested that the surrogates are used for all kinds of sexual activities and many are revealingly dressed. God’s and Jesus’ names are used for swearing, along with other harsh language.
Worldview Talking Points
“Surrogates” didn’t clean up at the box office, but its proven sci-fi action premise and even its aging action star will likely draw the interest of many students. And though the execution of that premise veers dangerously close to silliness and eventually runs completely off the path of internal logic, it does dabble in some of the big questions we face about the onward march of technology and the Internet.
We hope a few of the following questions will provide an opportunity for you to have a productive conversation with your student about some of those ideas if they and/or you see the film.
- What other science-fiction films did “Surrogates” remind you of? Did you like it better or not as well as those films?
- Did you like Bruce Willis in the movie? Do you think he usually makes a movie like this better or worse? Why?
- What would you say was the worldview perspective of the movie? What one or two big ideas was it suggesting—or what big questions was it asking?
- Would you agree that we—our family and humanity, in general—spend way more time letting the Internet and machines do things for us? How would you guess that will change us over time?
- What are some of the differences between actually interacting with people in real life and interacting with them through Twitter, Facebook, or even video chatting? What are the pro’s and cons of both methods of communicating?
- How is our dependence on the Internet and other technology making us smarter, faster, and safer? How is it making us dumber, slower, and less healthy?
- What would you say are the greatest benefits and worst dangers for you personally and society in general as we move further and further into 24/7 connection with the Internet?
- Would you say that you’re addicted to the Internet? Do you have friends that you would say are addicted to the Internet? What does that even mean? What would be the symptoms of Internet or technology or texting addiction? How would it hurt someone?
- Many people seem to have a hard time unplugging and just being still without any kind of input coming from some form of technology. Have you seen that with anyone in our family?
- What do you think we can do about that? What does it mean to “be still” and focus on God in the age of 24/7 Internet and communication? [Parent: Think about reading Psalm 46:10 together.]
- Do you think it’s possible to know lots of things and have access to almost any information you could ever want to know—and still be really foolish? Can you think of any examples of that?
- Where would you say the wisdom to know what to do with all of that information comes from? [Parent: Emphasize the idea from Proverbs 1:7 that all wisdom comes from God, from understanding His absolutely correct perspective of life.]
- Where can we get wisdom? [Parent: Emphasize that wisdom is found from “fearing God” (trusting Him completely), from searching it out and sacrificing to obtain it (see Proverbs 4), and from asking God for it, trusting Him to give it to us (see James 1).]
- How can you and I know when it’s time to unplug from all the cell phones, games, TV, and Internet? How can we be sure to do well (better?) at doing that on purpose? What are the consequences when we don’t take time to be unplugged and think and be together with other people in person?
- If you could create your own surrogate like those in the movie, what would you want it to look like? What would you want to do or try with it?