Minority Report (Three
out of Five)
Starring Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick
Are you a criminal if you get arrested before you commit the crime,
before you even thought about committing it? Thats the central
question to the new Steven Spielberg film, Minority Report. Or rather
one would think that would be the question central to a film where
police officers arrest "future murderers" based on the
predictions of three "precogs" hooked up to machines in
a pool. But action sequences quickly replace any ethical dilemmas
the premise suggests.
Spielbergs world meshes the glamorous side of commercialism
with images stolen from other popular science fiction films. It
looks like a cologne companys vision of the future. It has
tall, glass buildings covered in advertisements for Pepsi and The
Gap. Sleek Tron-like cars zip through the Hot Wheels-style racing
track streets. The police fly through the city in copies of Boba
Fetts ship from the Star Wars series. The eye-opening device
from A Clockwork Orange is used for an eye surgery scene. And everything
is covered in a calming blue hue.
In this world, John Anderton (Tom Cruise) heads up the special police
unit devoted to Pre-Crime, specifically murder. His job is to scan
the visions of the three precogs on a large viewscreen. Responding
to the movements of his hands, the images are played like a symphony,
as he tries to find clues as to where the murders will take place.
Anderton originally defends the actions of this special Pre-Crime
unit. He says stopping the murder doesnt change the fact the
person is a murderer. He demonstrates by rolling a marble off a
counter. Another cop catches it as it rolls off the edge. But catching
it doesnt mean the marble wasnt going to hit the floor.
Of course, Andertons attitude changes when the precogs predict
he will murder a complete stranger in 36 hours. Convinced he has
been set up, Anderton runs away to prove his innocence. From then
on, its basically a standard chase movie. And for the most
part it works. Spielberg has a strong background in adventure films
and so he is easily able to keep the pace fast and entertaining,
if a bit formulaic.
Though, some of these scenes occasionally border on the ridiculous,
especially when Anderton has Agatha, (Samantha Morton) one of the
precogs, with him. Oddly, her abilities as a seer are stronger alone
than when shes connected to the other two precogs. Together,
they can only predict murders. But on her own, it seems as if she
can predict everything that everyone is going to do.
Spielberg also spends too much time resolving things. The film reaches
the potential murder scene and instead of ending there, the director
spends roughly 20 minutes, tying up every loose end he can find,
including succinctly answering the philosophical question of predetermination,
which he has been avoiding for most of the film. The answer reminds
the viewer that Spielberg is a childrens filmmaker at heart.