Most summer movies are designed for one thing, money making. Mile high hype equals even higher profits, especially when coupled with expensive eye-candy (Triple X being the most recent and stereotypical offender). Minority Report, however, like many Spielberg films, encompasses not only the cash-cow ethics of summer salivation but also the legitimate respectability associated with the director of Schindler's List and The Color Purple. Minority Report joins the accessibility of Jurassic Park, the dystopian sci-fi future of A. I., and an as of yet untouched (by Spielberg) element: film noir.
The film, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, is set in Washington D.C. year 2054. In this version of the future a near utopia has been reached, with automatic cars whisking us to our respective apartments and, more importantly, the elimination of violent crime. This was achieved through an experiment known as "Precrime," an elite police force armed with the prescience of Pre-Cogs, three people with the power to predict murders. Tom Cruise plays the annoyingly named John Anderton, who is, not surprisingly, the best detective on the force and Max von Sydow plays Lamar Burgess, the director of Precrime and the friend of Anderton.
The film begins with a slick example of how Precrime works, complete with tantalizing clues and sufficiently clever detective work. This prelude segue-ways into the actual plot: the Precrime experiment has been successful in D.C. and is poised for implementation nationwide. Enter Danny Witwer (Colin Ferrel), sent to investigate Precrime before its big break. Witwer and Anderton instantly collide, and when Anderton finds himself "indicted" for the murder of a man he's never met, the movie slogan "everybody runs" kicks in. From there the chase is on, Witwer vs. Anderton, with Anderton eventually kidnapping Agatha (Samantha Mortan), the most talented of the Pre-Cogs. A plot twist or two later, the film ends nice and neat, everyone going home with a happy, comfortable conclusion.
But what kept this movie from achieving true greatness and the upper echelons of film (i.e. the Godfather and Clockwork Orange), was the need for mass-market accessibility, and Spielberg's customary avoidance of anything truly threatening and dark. Tom Cruise's anti-hero persona is portrayed through his drug habit, but this is mild and avoids any real moral conflict. In the beginning of the film, members of Precrime become annoyingly redundant about their godlike situation. This brings up the issue of the dialogue, which is generally fine, except for certain points where it becomes stereotypical, redundant, jarring, or a mix of all three. These serve as reminders that you are watching a movie by the man who did Tiny Toons.
Ultimately, the film will be most compared to Blade Runner, fittingly another Philip Dick adaptation. Where Minority Report only tests the water of philosophical noir, Blade Runner dives right in making it a much more daring and challenging picture. Minority Report borrows from Blade Runner (though this might be a result of tapping the same creative source), the most obvious example being the scoping picture enhancer used by both Anderton and Rick Deckard, his analog. And while Minority Report is a very busy action/plot driven movie, Blade Runner takes the time to paint its grimy depressing world. Appropriately, Blade Runner's ending is very uncomfortable, with biblical references and an open-ended journey that would frustrate those content with Minority Report's neat little package of mundanity.
Please understand, however, that while this may seem unnecessarily harsh, it is only because this movie had the capacity for so much more, and it is frustrating to see it limited. It is still very enjoyable to watch, and of all the movies advertised this summer, it is probably the best. I say advertised, because no one will know about Cinema Paradiso: The New Version, a fabulous movie which is only playing in one theater and has not had a single commercial on T.V. as far as I can tell. And since many people will find themselves at a theater this summer, deciding whether to watch Triple X, or Minority Report, please heed my advice and choose the latter. The gorgeous special effects, exhilarating chase, deliciously chilling performances by both Sydow and Mortan, semi-philosophical subject matter, and intelligently unpredictable plot twists provide an enjoyable (if somewhat frustrating) experience.
Griff Rees. Griffith Rees was born on a dreary, humid August 17, 1985 at approximately 2:00 in the afternoon. Near the advent of his fifth birthday Griffith underwent a traumatic and life changing experience: he matriculated at Wyngate Elementary School. After six years and precious few visits … More »