Minority Report

I admit that the theater conditions during Minority Report put me in a bad mood, but the glowing reviews by Roger Ebert and in The New Yorker simply floor me. To the screenwriter’s credit, the plot had enough twists and turns that even when I thought I knew where it was going, I didn’t quite. And the twist and turns are plausible within the logic of the story; that is, the movie doesn’t cheat.

But Minority Report also had a lot of those Spielbergian excesses that I’ve hated in every one of his films since E.T. On top of that, I feel I’ve been CGI’d to death. The hollowed eye-socket. Fakey. The fight scenes. Fakey.

I didn’t hate the movie: there were some fun things to watch: the UI at PreCrime; the talking ads at the mall (scary enough to make me shop online 100%); the garden of poisonous delight (great stolen kiss there, Lois). But so many other scenes seemed lifted from other movies: Bladerunner, Brazil, Robocop, The Fifth Element, and Groundhog’s Day.

I think the elements were blended by the same kinds of minds parodied in The Morning News the scenes: the Minority Report Trailer. Watch trailer 3, read the story, and then let me know whether you agree or disagree with Roger Ebert that this is a 4-star movie.

Slate’s Tim Appelo offers another dissenting view, questioning the film’s noir classification.

Alert: Spoilers Ahead

AJM points out the film’s biggest flaw. Why disband the PreCrime program when you can use it to prevent murder? Stop convicting people for crimes they haven’t committed, but continue to use it to stop murders before they happen.

Why is so much attention drawn to the fact that if John Anderton (Tom Cruise) removes his bandages before his time is up, that he will go blind and then nothing comes of it? We get the warning twice. We get the ticking clock. We get him struggling with the spiderbots. One eye is uncovered and scanned. Tom reacts in agony. We remember a line early in the film, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” And then nothing. No consequences. No payoff.

Do eyeballs really bounce and roll like billiard balls? I thought they were soft and gloopy. And don’t they need to be on ice, or at least chilled so they don’t start rotting? How long were they in his box of stuff from work? How did they get into his box of stuff from work?

You mean to tell me they have a rogue employee, who’s fingered as a murder, and they haven’t changed the door code yet?

When they finally explain why this film is called Minority Report, I breathed a sigh of relief and thought, “Maybe it’s not such a stupid name for this movie.” But that thread of the plot is dropped and I reverted to my original opinion.

Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) is an experienced homicide detective and he goes alone to confront the bad guy with the proof of his crime? And before he does so, he hands him a loaded gun. And he expects what to happen? Okay, maybe he didn’t read the part in the PreCrime documentation that explained all three PreCogs had to be present to foresee a murder. (Wonder how he missed that in his thorough investigation of the PreCrime unit.) Even if you believe he was waiting for the good guys to save him in moment of dramatic flourish, the entire setup is out of character for someone who is convinced of flaws in the system.

Bottom Line: Recommended with reservations.

3 Responses to “Minority Report”

  1. MJN Responds:

    I just saw Minority Report, and I noticed many of the same flaws. He shouldn’t have been able to use his card to get back in to the secure area. Now one might reason that they thought as he did and he would be retina-scanned a dozen times before he got there, but it should be standard procedure.

    Besides, one should not have to engage in such mental gymnastics to justify plot flaws.
    Also, why don’t the pre-cogs have any rights? Even wards of the state should volunteer for such all-emcompassing and horrific.

    And I don’t know what he was sniffing, but they should legalize it since it didn’t seem to impair him too much. He was in top physical condition, and able to outwit an ultra-modern police force, and didn’t even seem hungover.

    Overall though, I loved it, and was entertained. The spiders were creepy. Actually the whole future was kind of creepy as was Artificial Intelligence.

  2. mss Responds:

    I think the point of the story is that the basic human rights of the Pre-Cogs are trampled on. When Agatha’s mom wants to get her out of the program, she’s killed. The interests of the state, (or is the personal gain of Max von Sydow), take precedence. These philosophical issues are trivialized because the movie focuses on Tom Cruise’s personal crisis instead. Contrast that with the other famous movie made from a Philip K. Dick story, Bladerunner. The rights of the replicants remain a strong theme in the movie and the issues Harrison’s Ford struggles with provide balance and contrast; they don’t overwhelm the movie.

    I enjoyed Minority Report. I recommend that people see it. But I don’t think it’s a “masterpiece”. It’s not film noir (I loved the Statesman’s line “Noir lite: more action, less thrilling.”) Minority Report is eye-candy. We went home and popped in the laserdisc of Bladerunner just to get the sacharine taste out of our mouths.

  3. jbl Responds:

    As for flaws, my big question at the end was…why couldn’t Agatha foresee the identity of the killer (Lamar) in the original vision. If it didn’t exist because it was a reenactment of the thwarted murder, how come it was available at the end of the movie for all Lamar’s cronies to gasp at?

    And then there are simple issues of credibility. Though we have all been trained to check our reality gauges at the threshhold of a movie, still I found the images of Tom Cruise keeping a literal grip on the sleek and no doubt slippery surface of those 21st C. vehicles unneccesarily pushing it. Though the transportation system of this future world did seem on eof the more appealing aspects of it.

    Finally, if we are comparing this movie to Bladerunner, I must put in my vote for the replicants as being far more deserving of our sympathy. They displayed real human emotion and desire. While Agatha was developed to some extent, the twins might as well have been written out of the story. And the sappy end contrived for them was just that, sappy and stupid. The Hallmark cards conclusion.

The surface and beneath the surface