johnlink ranks MINORITY REPORT (2002)

It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since this movie came out. I remember seeing this in theaters and really being sucked into the universe Spielberg created. The future-crime concept, the computer systems, the concepts of travel. All this detail put into creating a world within which this story could unfold. Plus, this came out before everyone realized Tom Cruise is crazy, so it had that going for it.

I watched MINORITY REPORT (2002) on 6.1.12. It was my fourth viewing of the film.

This movie has seen an interesting change in perception over the years. I remember many people not liking it upon its release, yet it finds itself sitting at a 7.7 rating on IMDB. I’m in the camp of people who really enjoy this film, though I don’t think it is necessarily one of the 21st century’s best science fiction films. For those who may not have seen it, the story revolves around a police officer named John (Tom Cruise) who uses a group of psychics, called pre-cogs, to apprehend and sentence murderers before they commit the crime. But when the pre-cogs predict John becoming a murderer, he must go on the run to prove both his innocence and the flaws of the system.

The major criticisms levied against this film have to do with the car scene, and with the logic within the film. Both are valid. The Lexus product placement scene, which ends with a car being built around Cruise for him to conveniently drive away is fairly absurd. Also, the rules for how and when the pre-cogs are able to predict murders seem to fluctuate throughout the film. Plus there is a question of whether Cruise’s crime can be called premeditated, the criteria for which the film gives for the pre-cogs to be able to predict the murder so far in advance.

These sort of criticisms are much more heavily weighed by modern film viewers than they were a couple of decades ago. The script here is not terrible (even if it is not great). The scene with the car is admittedly unfortunate, but no  worse than some of the silliness which permeates, say, the INDIANA JONES films. The willingness of the viewer (myself included) to overlook those sort of inanities has decreased. Just look at the example of Indy ‘nuking the fridge’ in the last film. That’s the sort of thing the earlier movies would have shrugged off, but which was the beginning of the end for the latest INDIANA JONES feature.

But I digress.

MINORITY REPORT is more style than substance, even if it has its share of substance. Cruise’s John Anderton is a drug addict attempting to overcome the loss of his son. Both of those things are used against him by his enemies, and you get the sense as a viewer that he is using them himself to keep his personal life emotionless and his professional life driven.

Spielberg has plenty he wants to say about consumerism and identity as well. A doctor hates John, but will give him new eyes (and by doing so a new identity) because he knows he will get paid, and he knows the pain it will cause. With his new identity, Mr. Yakamoto, John is greeted by the automated screen at The Gap with his new name and a question about his last purchase. With this quick moment we learn that the stores don’t care about making a real connection with their customers, but merely in an illusion of a relationship.

The film hypothesizes about a world in which we can see the future, and what the punishment should be for people who have not actually committed a crime, but who some psychics are saying will. The film questions the morality of this, leaving any defense of its practice, ultimately, to the villain.

Spielberg gets the look of this right. It is no small task to have a movie still look so futuristic a decade after its release. This doesn’t feel like a relic of the past the way BLADE RUNNER does, but rather like something which could still be our future. Sure some of the computer technology has advanced more quickly than the film thought it would, but for the most part MINORITY REPORT still feels futuristic.

The action is excellent, even as it sometimes devolves into silliness (like the aforementioned car scene and another with a group of contortionists). The danger is marginal and more akin to the danger in the INDY series than something like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. We assume the good guys will be okay and the bad guys punished. This all leads to a great third act twist which still makes me jump, even when I know it is coming.

All the principle actors are solid. Cruise is his usual leading man self, which is an asset for the movie. Max Von Sydow is great as the patriarch of pre-crime, and Samantha Morton is effective as one of the pre-cogs. But it is Colin Farrell who is the surprise of this film, walking a tightrope between good and bad which is vital to the suspense of the film. It is a role which suits him well.

I could watch this movie anytime. I wouldn’t put it on my very top of Spielberg’s best films, if only because he did the genre better with AI. But it is certainly in the list of his most watchable and enjoyable movies.



The bonus point is for the art direction in making this futuristic film still feel futuristic a full decade after its release.



~ by johnlink00 on June 2, 2012.

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