Minority Report Review
In 2054, crime is quickly becoming a thing of the past in Washington DC thanks to Pre-Crime. Anderton (Tom Cruise) works as the top dog of this fast response squad; his job is to sift through the pre-visions of crime he is given to find out where a crime is about to be committed and then apprehend the would-be murderer before they get the chance to kill. However, one morning Anderton opens a pre-vision which has him committing a murder within the next 36 hours - still rather than let himself be arrested, he chooses to flee believing he could be innocent of this murder to be. This couldn't come at a worse time for the company as they are about to go national with their "service" - they urgently need the matter to be resolved to avoid public humiliation.
After the disappointment of AI, I was expecting Spielberg to make a right mess of this one: all the elements seemed assembled for a perfectly boring block-buster - overpaid bland lead, cutting-edge special effects and ample room for sentimentality - but Spielberg seems to have effortlessly avoided all these traps. Visually the film is quite stunning with a great use of the wide aspect ratio to enable some wonderful shots of the futuristic interiors. Interestingly, he also opted for a very faded colouring of the film making it look washed out underlining the psychological weariness and weakness of the characters. Stylistically, it seems as if Spielberg tried to visually replicate the futuristic vision of the French comic strip artist/director Enki Bilal although that may only be accidental. There are plenty of other influences scattered throughout the film and given that the story is from the writer who gave us Blade Runner we can forgive some similarities between the two.
The acting without being the crux of the film is more than adequate especially with the presence of talents such as Max Von Sydow and Samantha Morton. Cruise gives a good performance without coming through as squeaky clean which is a bonus. Colin Farrell does well in his role too although seemed a bit like a budget version of Russell Crowe - maybe that's just me though!
The criticism levied at the film for side-stepping most of the issues within the film are in my opinion quite unfair. To attempt to even skim the surface of pre-determinism and free will is complex enough but going any further into it would have made the film confusing and too didactic. He doesn't side step the issues of the oppressive invasion of privacy by advertisers (who I assume paid to have themselves represented in the film!) nor does he resort to the childish Manicheism that has plagued so much of his work. Granted he's no Kieslowski but like him he raises the issues without offering a clear answer or stating his own point of view leaving the audience to make their own mind up.
Given my personal misgivings about Spielberg, I can only confess that Minority Report has absolutely amazed me beyond what I was expecting. He should be credited with keeping some gravity to a scenario that by his own admission could have become "Minority Impossible" and avoiding the temptation to pull easy heart strings. I honestly think that unlike the Matrix, Minority Report will age quite well visually and eventually be seen as (one of) Spielberg's best.