Is elite director Steven Spielberg on a quest or an exploratory journey? Does Spielberg want to become the late director Stanley Kubrick or is he just flirting with the possibility?
Last year, Spielberg picked up the pieces of the late Stanley Kubrick’s A.I and created a strange a twisted spawn that wasn’t Spielberg or Kubrick. Spielberg continues that journey with his latest film, Minority Report.
In Minority Report, Spielberg teams with Tom Cruise to adapt an infamous story from strange existential sci-fi author Philip K. Dick. The authors work has been adapted into other feature films including Blade Runner, Total Recall and last year’s Imposter starring Gary Sinise.
In this story of Dick’s, we follow the exploits of pre-crime detective John Anderton (Tom Cruise). Anderton is a driven and haunted man. He is tormented by the loss of his young son and believes that being part of the pre-crime division he can stop others from losing loved ones. Pre-crime is a new division of law enforcement in the year 2084. Pre-crime exists to stop murders before they occur and condemn the murderer before he has actually committed the crime. How man is able to accomplish this feat? Well, three genetically altered humans known as Pre-cogs dream into the future and then we capture their dreamt images and take the appropriate action. In some respect their dreams have to be unscrambled by Pre-Crime Agents and then addressed.
On one such day, Anderton finds himself being the subject of a pre-crime investigation where he has to race the clock to uncover a mystery to why he kills a man that he has never met. Could Anderton ever be a murderer?
The problems that I had with Minority Report were in the believability of the premise. For good science fiction you need to have some belief in what is going on. I had a hard time understanding that a man can be convicted and then locked away in suspended animation before he has even done anything. The movie even contradicts this point when it says that each one of us have a choice before we commit a violent act. If everything is seen and laid out how can we have a choice? The movie says the Pre-cogs are never wrong.
I felt very sorry for the Pre-cogs because basically they have been genetically manipulated to serve us as super-computers. We hook wires up to their brains and then basically imprison them in a chamber called the Temple where they are continuously drugged and half submerged in water. This is torturous, in-human and even slavery.
Cruise character says to the man investigating Pre-crime Division (played by Colin Farrell), “It helps if you don’t think of them as human.” Then I scream at the flickering film screen, “Of course their human! What are you some kind of slave-overseer?” The characters also dictate that they try to remain separate from the Pre-cogs. Is this some sort of relief for their conscience? Isn’t this just a justification of enslaving these gifted beings?
There is this greenish-hue displayed over the whole film gives it a rather dark feel that does have a lot in common with Spielberg’s last film, A.I. I am not sure if that hue helps the picture. It hindered it for me. I did wonder what the film would have been like if it were in full-color and we saw a fruitful and flourishing society. Also can you imagine how all the visuals would have looked in vibrant colors?
I had a lot of problems with the layout of the film and solidity of the plot. There were so many holes in the plot. Instead of chasing John Anderton, why did the police center in on his victim and protect him until Anderton came? There was a lot of the small stuff I didn’t understand. It is almost like Spielberg thinks we should know something before we even start watching.
I did like some of Spielberg’s action sequences but that damn hue alienated them for me. I couldn’t get into them because I felt like I was a pre-cog hooked up one of those machines. It is a necessity for an audience to be involved in any action sequence so that the adrenaline is transferred to the audience members. We want to be a part of the action and be pulled in. This wasn’t accomplished for me because I felt the hue was more of a shield than an aid.
When you think about what would it have been like if Paul Verhoeven (Robocop) would have directed this movie. I think he could have made a vastly superior picture. Spielberg does a lot to try to stray from the dark and impending storyline with attempts at interjecting humor. He humor attempts seem amateur and extremely forced. If Verhoeven would have made the film I believe that his kind of humor would have been noticed and it would have been successful.
In my opinion, the only successful Philip K. Dick transference to film was Blade Runner. In Blade Runner, director Ridley Scott developed and set the bar for dark futuristic films. His vision and the world he created were revolutionary. Now if you compare any other film set in a dark futuristic world you find that the film is just a carbon copy of Blade Runner. Minority is no exception. In Minority, Spielberg needed to find more comparisons and contrasts the just using an all-encompassing hue.
The acting of Tom Cruise and fellow co-stars Max Von Sydow and Colin Farrell isn’t very memorable. I do have to hand it to Farrell he does have his charisma down pact. I just hope that he finds a picture where he can really shine.
I can’t say that I enjoyed Minority Report if anything I probably groaned and shook my head through about 90% of it. I know my perspective is probably a minority but would the real Spielberg please make a movie.
(2.5 out of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer.
Side Note: I am sorry for my spoiler-laced review. I try so hard to be a spoiler-free critic but I had to make an exception in this case. Some of the concepts and views in this film really rubbed me the wrong way and I thought they should be addressed since there seems to be no discussion on those points.
Written: June 22, 2002