In honor of Steven Speilberg week on the I Hate Critics podcast, I am publishing the many reviews I have written of Speilberg’s most recent canon. Here’s my 2002 review of Minority Report.
I have never cared for science fiction. Most science fiction to me is gory trash referred to as sci-fi because no one knows what else call it. The science in sci-fi films is usually somewhat suspect, lacking in any real possibility. Furthermore, the vision of the future is usually very bleak and depressing with a low opinion of us in the audience, often blaming us for the destruction of the fantasy future.
Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report is nothing like the recent trend of trash sci-fi. This film has a brain and a point and it also happens to be entertaining.
The film stars Tom Cruise as John Anderton, the head enforcer of Washington D.C’s Precrime division. Precrime is designed to stop murders before they happen through the use of computers and genetically engineered humans called precogs. The precogs can see a murder before it happens and communicate the images to computers which are manipulated by the police to figure out who the murderer is and where the murder will take place.
As we enter the story there hasn’t bee a murder in DC in six years. The system, in Anderton’s opinion, is flawless. Colin Ferrell, as a cop for the justice department, is more pragmatic and investigates on the basis that nothing is foolproof. We soon find out there may be a flaw as Anderton is fingered as a future murderer of a man he’s never met.
This leads to some spectacular chase scenes and awesome special effects that are surprisingly realistic. Spielberg employed real sets and stunts with special effects and CGI which helps Minority Report to feel more grounded and real than say George Lucas and his entirely CGI backgrounds or Sam Raimi’s CGI Spiderman. The integration of the real sets and stunts with the CGI and effects is flawless and Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography makes everything just that much more dynamic and real.
Minority Report however is no mere technical achievement. The story is fascinating. It’s based loosely on a Philip K. Dick story but punched up for a more modern, futuristic approach by Scott Frank.
Legendary science fiction writer Isaac Asimov once said, and I’m paraphrasing, the best science fiction is a logical extension of existing technology. Minority Report has the feeling of eerie prescience. It’s not prophetic but it seems like a logical extension of existing technology. Scenes of touch screen computers and holographic images are science already in sight. Also the idea of genetically engineered people is not the least bit far fetched with the recent controversy over cloning and the genome project. Of course engineering people who can see the future is unlikely, but it is just a movie.
If I had any trouble with the film it was the ending. Spielberg may still be feeling the effects of his downer ending in A.I. I don’t want to give to much away but let’s just say the false ending is slightly more satisfying than the one that follows it.
Still, Minority Report worked for me. I was fascinated by it’s ideas, drawn in by its story and awed by its adventure. Let’s hope Cruise and Spielberg work together again soon as they bring out the best in each other.