"I just want her back"
Agent Tom Greer
Whilst Director Johnathan Mostow's latest Sci-Fi release gained only mediocre reviews from the critics, Surrogates raises some major issues in relation to human identity.
Set around a decade from now, we are presented with a society where people appear cushioned from pain and harm by living much of their lives via the safety of being wired to a substitute alter ego - a robot which engages with the world, allowing dreams and fantasies to be fulfilled without danger or, apparently, remorse or guilt. Into this paradise, however, comes death, a murderer which destroys both ghola and user in an instant, exposing the terrifying frailty of the 'system' that everyone considers 'safe' and strengthening in our principal characters the fact that this virtual existence has merely distracted from but in no way dealt with the true wounds and trails of being human.
Key to the story is the manner in which two leading characters deal with the agony of loss.
Detective Tom Greer, played by Bruce Willis, and Inventor of the Virtual life, Dr Lionel Canter, come to epitomize two very different reactions to our reality, and in Greer's final choice in the film, we find ourselves facing a hard question - 'how real about ourselves do we really want to be'?
The issues raised in Surrogates will become pressing to all of us during our lives. Amidst the bobbing and weaving to solve the crime, Willis' character seeks to look beyond the immediate and the superficial (both in the case, and in his experience) to reach for deeper answers to the void of his society and his life.
As someone who knows well the manner of personal trails conveyed here, I've found myself several times this week pondering several of the issues the movie raised. How many of us are reduced, even imprisoned, through the tragedies that real grief and loss bring upon us? How often can life become little more than a nightmare to be avoided as much and as often as possible?
Tom Greer, like us, whilst having moments of brilliance, is a deeply flawed and wounded man, but that realization motivates him to ask the right questions and to seek a better answer.
At its very heart, Christianity is about facing the real world. It's not about fanciful illusions, where we just accept ourselves as a slightly evolved species, essentially just here for a good time, but a faith which drags us before the deepest longings and understanding in our souls - that the beauty we know in love, the majesty we view in creation, the passion we encounter in life, resonates with the fact that there is much, much more going on than the oft vaunted facile/popular escapism (philosophically and practically) often tagged 'life'.
Jesus Christ came to not only return significance to His handiwork, but to define that 'weight' in our lives - intimacy, profoundly genuine, with God, with each other, and with creation. That is the objective of divine redemption.
Facing the pain of who and what we are is not easy, but as in the movie, it is as this is done, in the light of Christ's teaching regarding our true wonder (made by God) and our catastrophic fall (rebellion from Him), that reality will once more fall into place, and freedom can be found in God's healing grace and mercy.
Life now is stained by the horror of our enslavement to lies and their consequences, but the day is approaching when that will be over, and humanity will start afresh, healed from these times.