Casual Rambling
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Casual Rambling

Movie Review: Minority Report

Rating: 3 and 1/2 Stars

from Hollywood Reporter

Lest we forget, Tom Cruise is a force of nature. Nature may be peaceful, it may also be unrelenting in its powers of annihilation, but nature persists. But if nature comes face to face with Tom Cruise, then dare I say, may God help us all.

from IMDB

The Tom Cruise paradigm is one that isn’t easily explained by casual movie-goer or staunch critic. The world knows Cruise collectively as an action star, but Cruise has a long and storied career in all sorts of dramatic roles. I have three levels of acting performances for movie stars. There’s the third tier, where the role doesn’t ask for much. That’s the prototypical action role designed for Schwarzenegger or Stallone in the 80s. The top tier is for an exhilarating DiCaprio or Ed Harris performance. A top tier performance is when the actor’s performance makes the movie seem better than it would with an average actor.

The second tier is where you find Tom Cruise in most of his roles. The acting is believable and warrants your personal investment, but you’re not moved or taken aback by it. Minority Report is one of those roles for Cruise. You could fill this role with Denzel Washington and get the same level of enjoyment from the film. That’s not to say just anyone can fill a second-tier role film. Movie stars have earned our trust and deliver with consistency and competency.

Minority Report is well-conceived as it was a Phillip K Dick short story. Science fiction short stories often house the best ideas for stories that make for great novellas and sci-fi action films. Scott Frank and Jon Cohen convert the story into a screenplay and it ends up in the hands of Steven Spielberg. Fun fact: Six years later, Frank is also credited for the screenplay for Marley and Me. Cohen has no other credits besides Minority Report.

Minority Report is a futuristic sci-fi where a special police force can tap into future-predicting human minds to see murders before they happen. This special police force and system are called “precrime”. It’s a technology that is in its testing phases and John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is the lead investigator of the police force. Images of the future crime come into a futuristic computer system and it’s up to Anderton to locate the scene of the crime, the killer, and a fixed amount of time is given to stop the crime. There are three humans in a vat chamber called precogs that send up the information.

Minority Report’s opening showcases the precrime’s effectiveness, as Anderton stops a murder in progress in its final moments.

The public at large is wary about the idea of precrime being used nationally, as precrime is only being tested in Washington DC. Legislators will be voting on a national rollout if the precrime system is deemed effective and safe.

Of course, with any good science fiction plot about a system that’s deemed to be perfect, there are logical and ethical questions that have to be concerned. Is it humane to develop someone into a precog? Can you convict someone on the basis of the precog’s assumptions? This is where Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) comes into play. Witwer, a Justice Department official, plays a skeptic of the precog system.

The third and final major role is Anderton’s boss, Lamar Burgess (Max Von Sydow). Burgess is close with Anderton, but his ultimate goal is to see precrime go nationwide.

Minority Report hits its stride when Anderton discovers that the next premeditated murder suspect is him. Anderton conceals his discovery, but the precogs caretakers has seen Anderton’s fate, and he allows Anderton two minutes to escape. Witwer, clearly at odds with Anderton from the start, begins the cat and mouse game.

Spielberg is in his element when constructing scenes that build around the cat and mouse concept. The mouse must be swift, sneaky, and one step ahead. This is where the best writers and directors innovate. Minority Report’s most suspenseful work is done as Anderton attempts to hide from a new police technology called “spiders”. They are as terrifying as you could imagine. The little robotic machines enter into a derelict apartment searching every nook and cranny and scan all the people inside.

Anderton is also faced with some wacky characters including the creator of the precog system and a mad doctor whom Anderton had arrested before.

Anderton continues to search for a path that can lead to prove his innocence, whilst getting to the bottom of a conspiracy that he was set up.

The movie showcases Spielberg’s excellence in action set pieces, but also does well to effectively tell a complex story. The movie run time is fairly long at 2 and a half hours but Spielberg keeps you engaged for the full experience.

The role is a fairly traditional action role for Cruise. Farrell performs well in support and Sydow delivers as a Sydow-esque performance.

Minority Report may not be at the top of the greatest all-time sci-fi movies list, but I will wager that it’s certainly worth making an argument for if your list is top 20.

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J. King

J. King

Not your average Medium rambler

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