Minority Report (2002)
Directed by: Steven Spielberg Rated: PG-13 Runtime: 2 hrs. 26 mins
Studio: Dreamworks Pictures & 20th Century Fox Screenwriter:
Adapted: Short story “The Minority Report” by Philip K. Dick
Cast: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Neal McDonough, Max von Sydow
In the year 2054, there’s no murder in Washington D.C., and it’s been that way for six years with the use of Pre-Crime in Minority Report.
Pre-Crime is a division of the police that arrests people before they commit murders. How is that possible? With the use of ‘pre-cogs.’ The pre-cogs are three people that were given birth to by drug addicts and, as such, caused the babies to have a severe mental handicap. A doctor who sought to cure them of their afflictions caused an unintended anomaly to manifest in some—the ability to see future murders.
Minority Report is an overly complicated story of a murder, the vehicle for the plot, but, to me, is secondary to the film’s themes. These themes ask things of the audience that are overlooked by most of the characters. What are the ethical and moral obligations of using technology in many avenues of life? Doesn’t it take away free will? How can due process be ignored? In America, we are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but what if we haven’t committed said crime yet? There is a line between thinking of doing something and actually following through. The story follows the philosophical logic that events are bound by causality. That past events/actions/choices are always the cause of future events.
Yes, the movie is a melding of action and ideas while solving a crime, but it has a huge plot hole that isn’t recognizable until the ending. I’m not talking about the gigantic question about how Pre-Crime can work long term when it’s based on three people. What happens when they die someday? That’s not even the plot hole; that’s just a huge, logical question.
For 2002, the film utilizes the technology available to create visually impressive “future” tech vibes that twenty years later have worked their way into our lives. There are no spider drones, but we have drones. We don’t have manually powered cycling sonic guns or fly around in jet packs. Our streets don’t look that nice anywhere in America, but the self-driving cars are sleek and sexy. Eat your heart out, Tesla. I also had Westworld vibes!
Minority Report moves along well enough but drags at times. Specifically, when the main character, Chief of Pre-Crime, John Anderton (Cruise), sinks into his depressed, self-loathing, and self-destructive habits. Cruise is in charge in this role, and runs, jumps, climbs, and gets shot at repeatedly. That just described ninety percent of his career. It’s an a-typical performance and nothing spectacular from anything else he’s done. His ex-wife Lara’s addition, beyond old videos, is a crutch and isn’t needed if only to satisfy Spielberg’s sappy cliché ending.
While Colin Farrell (Danny Witwer) and Neal McDonough (Fletcher) don’t have as much screen time, they do bring great energy when on screen. Witwer is out to find the flaw in the system because he’s against over-reaching on people’s rights. Fletcher is second in command and is tasked to bring in John when determined he will commit a murder.
Cruise may be the principal character, but it’s Agatha (Samantha Morton) who stole the show for me. Agatha is one of the three pre-cogs. All three live in a sterile room in a pool of specialized, nutrient liquid while constantly hooked up to provide a live, recordable feed from their minds of murders that haven’t happened yet. Sedated every moment of their lives, barely able to move or speak. A slave from the moment their minds opened up, unable to close again. At one point, she asks, “can you see?” and while Agatha is asking about something specific, it carries a double meaning for all of the themes presented throughout the movie. Her character is the most energetic and emotionally engaging in terms of performance.
Minority Report is this oddly lit movie that highlights the depth some will go to circumvent the system. No matter how advanced we get, humans are still materialistic, dirty, emotional creatures of habit at our core. The movie is part crime-solving, part action, and mystery. If you like crime, action, or sci-fi films, Minority Report is worth a place on your watchlist, even if you need to rent it.
—a pen lady