Minority Report ★★★½

Spielberg wastes no time in dropping us in the middle of this future world of pre-crime. MINORITY REPORT begins with an action set piece that does all the heavy lifting of explaining the rules of the world around us. Tom Cruise is a detective working in the pre-crime division. His job is to interpret and analyze the premonitions supplied from the clairvoyants. He postures his arms like an orchestral conductor as he investigates the will-be murders. Once the location and time of the pre-crime is understood, his team enters the situation to prevent the murder from ever happening. So many scripts and directors would spend an exorbitant amount of time having people explain the science and “rules” of the world. Spielberg has a far better understand of cinematic grammar and storytelling than to waste time with this type of boring dialogue. Instead he uses action as a means of explanation that is both informative and entertaining.

Collin Farrell plays a government employee that is investigating the pre-crime division. He seems to really have it out for Cruise, but I never felt that his motives were well explained. He seems to be a villain just for villainy’s sake. Cruise is a flawed character. He lost his son, and feels responsible for the tragedy. He copes with this by taking drugs. He joined pre-crime to prevent others from feeling pain the way he does.

This movie has an optical fixation. References to eyes and seeing are all over the film. The theme is present even the premise of seeing into the future.

The movie has a lot to do with the question of pre-destination. Do we have agency over our own lives or are we just acting out a universal play? It then asks, “which would be preferred”? Would you find comfort in the inedibility of your actions, or enslaved by them? Could you cope with actual accountability for the things you do and say? This are the questions at the core of a lot of religious faiths, and I think asking them in a summer thriller is kind of bold.

The twists a few too many times for my liking. This movie was made during a period where Spielberg was falling in love with his work a bit too much. A.I. was his prior movie, and I remember it having too many endings. This is Spielberg doing his best Hitchcock, right down to the umbrella scene from FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT. He also has to have his silly / childish sense of humor in his films. The scene where Cruise undergoes a procedure to change his appearance is classic Spielberg humor.

With one of the twists the film becomes an unexpected revenge fantasy. Fortunately the film twists away from this plot line, because it was clumsy and unnecessary. The use of glass and mirrors in the film expresses the fractured and duality of the Cruise character.

The film came out a mere 9 months after the attacks of 9/11. I found this a fascinating fact. I wonder how this film played in a time where America was on the hunt for killers that we couldn’t see. While we were hunting a belief, targeting people that thought a particular way, a movie about arresting people before they commit a crime was in the multiplexes. I think about the human right violations that this country undertook in the name of justice (and revenge). I think about the conditions our captives were kept in, and then I look at the pre-cogs, and I think about the justice of “pre-crime” and I wonder how futuristic this film felt in 2002?

Finally, I noticed that the aforementioned procedure that cruise goes through, really wasn’t necessary. It was to protect his identity, but the only time after the procedure that we see his identity being used to identify him, is when he goes shopping at The Gap. As a matter of fact, he needs his old identify at least twice after the procedure.