2002 - PG-13 - 140 Mins.
|Director: Steven Spielberg|
|Producer: Gerald R. Molen, Bonnie Curtis, Walter F Parkes, Jan de Bont|
|Written By: Jon Cohen, Scott Frank, John Cohen|
|Starring: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Peter Stormare, Max Von Sydow |
|Review by: David Trier
I've definitely seen worse films but if we could accurately predict the future as the film suggests, we wouldn't make movies like Minority Report.
Some fifty-odd years from now, criminal justice reaches its true destiny of arresting people for crimes before they commit them (arresting people for things they've actually done has always been a real pain). Their ability to do so comes from three mutant children who, to directly rip off from Scanners, have psychic abilities as a result of drugs their parents were taking. Detective John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is perpetually depressed since his son disappeared and his wife left him, but at least he's good at his job (of arresting people who haven't done anything). The project has worked well in Washington, DC, but for America to give up its national pastime (killing each other), pre-crime must meet the approval of the attorney general and his Detective Witwer (Colin Farrell). But it's quickly revealed that the system isn't perfect when Anderton himself is wanted for a future murder. Will he escape his fate? Is he being framed? Is pre-crime really the future? Are all Spielberg movies going to be long and silly from now on?
We don't really expect Tom Cruise to offer us anything too convincing, but in the context of being an action star, he certainly delivers as well as Keanu Reeves. Cruise is a "movie star" more than he is an "actor" and Detective Anderton is a role for exactly that. He certainly fares better here than he did in Vanilla Sky. Colin Farrell, who was quite good in Tigerland I thought, delivers a solid performance but seems a little young for the part. Max von Sydow, who's impressive just for still being alive (he starred in The Seventh Seal!), is great as the director of the pre-crime program. Samantha Morton, who was very convincing as being all doped up in the nonsensical Jesus' Son, acts convincingly all doped up here as the lead psychic. And Peter Stormare, an asset to any cast, has a very entertaining supporting role.
The problem with Minority Report is that it relies so heavily on its ridiculous premise that it spends most of its time trying to explain itself. It’s way too hard to believe that even the U.S. of
the future would allow such rampant violations of
civil rights. I'm all for suspension of disbelief, but this requires expulsion.
Minority Report suffers from many of the same defects that A.I. did. Spielberg wants desperately to be like Kubrick and to prove to the world that he can be dark and cynical like the rest of us. But this desperation is exactly what sabotages him because at the same time, he desperately wants audience approval. This is evident by the melodramatic soundtrack and the repeated little jokes that don't fit. For the record, some of the jokes are pretty funny, but none of them are really appropriate to the theme of the film. For example, Anderton is temporarily blinded from eye surgery and accidentally eats a rotten sandwich. Ha. Uh, ha.
The "look" of the film is strikingly similar to that of Spielberg's last film, but that was probably the best feature of his last film. I like movies with lots of grays and blues and Minority Report is well stylized. The effects, particularly as it relates to computers of the future, are also very well put together. But like most science fiction films, the technology seems inconsistent with reality. One would think that computers would evolve with time to become smaller and more efficient, whereas these computers are bigger and seem unnecessarily complicated. A machine that carves little wooden spheres and imprints data on them is certainly interesting to watch, but really seems like a waste of time and energy when compared to good old-fashioned text on a monitor. Likewise, the future of this film seems to have made many advances in transportation, but none as it relates to any other aspect of society (i.e., drugs, domestic violence, underground eye surgery). But some of the less appealing glimpses of the future are pleasantly disturbing, such as billboards referring to you by name after they've scanned your retina. In this regard, I think the film borrows heavily from movies like Brazil.
Another thing worth noting is the shameless advertising that seeps its way into every crack in the celluloid. It was bad enough sitting in the theater being forced to listen to the very worst pop music has to offer while watching still photo ads for food and the military, then to sit through ten solid minutes of actual ads for cars, newspapers, soda and the military again before the movie trailers, but to then be subjected to blatant product placement even within the film, which I actually paid for! It's absurd! And anyway, does anyone expect The Gap of all places to make it 2054?!!!
With civil rights basically being tossed out the window in modern America, a film like Minority Report is more relevant than not. The plot, although resting completely on its own absurdity, still has enough twists and surprises to keep us entertained. And Phillip K. Dick is often good source material, having provided us with some of the most creative science fiction stories around like Blade Runner, Total Recall and the underrated Screamers. But the issue of pre-crime is just too silly to warrant a leap from page to screen and Spielberg’s repeated attempts to justify it make the film pretty weak