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PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, language, sexuality and a drug-related scene

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The Story

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.

Content Issues

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.

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