Quick Hit: Our inadvertent Spielberg-athon continues with this masterful science fiction film.
So I didn’t quite realize how many different Spielberg movies we were covering as part of Science Fiction month. To date, we’ve covered two directors the most this month – two for Christopher Nolan (The Prestige, Interstellar) and three for Spielberg - Ready Player One, Close Encounters, and today’s film, Minority Report. If you look at these movies, you can see why – the man is a master at combining story and the latest effects technology into a smooth, lines free film.
Minority Report follows Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise) as he continues to pilot the fledgling Pre-Crime unit. He does so using the images generated by Pre-Cogs that live life awash in a nutrient formula. They predict when murders will occur, and Anderton conducts these hazy images like a symphony, frequently using the images projected on a holographic screen and zooming to the next one before using futuristic vehicles to apprehend the subject prior to the committal of the crime. The story, written originally by science-fiction Rushmore member Phillip K. Dick (who also wrote what Blade Runner and its sequel were based off of) is fleshed out and expanded, giving Anderton motivation and belief in this system which circumvents free will.
That is a huge part of the story, and I won’t dive much deeper into the plot for fear of ruining it for those that haven’t seen it (in the last 16 years!!). But suffice it to say that it opens really large philosophical questions about each and every one of your actions – do you choose them, or are they indeed predestined to take place? That’s a heady idea to be presented in a big budget blockbuster, so kudos to Spielberg for being unafraid to put it on screen.
And what a world we are plunged into! Outside of the Pre-Crime unit, the world has obviously changed greatly. We have magnetic, self-driving cars that seem to travel in any direction that they please – even directly down the side of buildings. There’re also eye scanners that lead to directed advertising – all the way down to cereal boxes. And in perhaps the most gripping scene in the movie, we have robotic spiders that can search an entire building and identify the inhabitants by forced retinal scans. This, for me, is the best scene in the movie – the way that the people simply continue on with their lives, even pausing fights and intercourse to be scanned is terrifying. The camerawork (and accompanying set work) that made this scene possible is almost unrivaled.
I also want to point out that Tom Cruise is just a great action star. There’s something to say for someone that can rock the emotional side of a story that is set (at the time) fifty years into the future. There’s another thing to say that someone makes stunts believable. But it’s the married quality of Cruise’s performance that continues to make him succeed where others have failed. He is unflinching in the rougher moments of the movie, and unafraid to show vulnerability despite his character’s tough guy persona. He’s an addict for goodness sake!
I actually think others may have made this point before, but I think that this is fascinating when paired with another science fiction virtuoso’s classic – Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. In that film, Malcolm McDowell’s Alex is forced into a program to “cure him” of his ways AFTER the crime, and here people are arrested BEFORE their crime and put into a “halo”. It’s just a fun juxtaposition that I think people should think about.
Anyways, this movie is great and I can’t find fault in much of it. I’m giving it an “A+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"