I didn’t really care for MINORITY REPORT. In fact the further I get from it, the more and more it begins to fall apart for me.
The vision of the future is remarkable. The personal direct marketing through eye scans, the omniscient big brother tracking of the government, the vertical highways, the jetpacks, the virtual pleasure centers… It is all rather spiffy. I can also imagine being completely distracted by it.
You could talk about the ethics of personalized direct marketing all day long and how it will be applied. You can ponder the Slave One hovercopter thingamagigs. The ethics of a ‘pre-crime’ division. There are a lot of subjects brought up by the hard ‘science-fiction’ within the film, a lot to talk about and discuss… However, that is all a bunch of window dressing for a rather shallow film filled with vacuous cartoons claiming to be human beings.
Tom Cruise’s character is by far the most developed of all characters. He lost his son. He does drugs. He joined pre-crime to keep what happened to his son from happening to anyone else. Never mind the fact that his son was technically kidnapped, and while he might very well be dead, apparently the pre-cogs wouldn’t be picking up on kidnappings, only when the perp physically killed the child, but if he/she was going to spend days, weeks, months or years torturing and assaulting the child… Well, the Department of Pre-Crime wouldn’t be worth a plastic kazoo of help for the poor children of the world. But hey… Tom’s on drugs, he isn’t thinking straight, so of course he probably hasn’t thought this all the way through. Cruise’s character has an empty hole in his heart caused by his son missing. This also split up him and his wife. He misses his family. We know this because, like Jonathon E in the original ROLLERBALL he watches Videos of key moments… oh, but he loves to see these videos horribly mangled by a really shitty hologram thing, that is quite ludicrous. That’s just a detail, I’ve always hated technology in science fiction film, that seems to state that future mankind will casually watch substandard image reproduction, just so that it can be dimensional.
Cruise’s John Anderton is frankly just a bit of a boring character. I don’t particularly feel his pain, his happiness, his fear or his exhilaration. I don’t feel his character is alive. He’s got moments where he delivers lines well. He is cool when in action. However, other than his scene in ‘the room’ when he’s supposed to fulfill his ‘destiny.’ That scene is wonderful. Cruise isn’t bad, he just isn’t involving to me in this film and I’m someone that is a long time fan of Tom’s. I just find him to be lacking in character. We know he believes in Pre-Crime and he misses his son. That’s about it.
Now, I’ve seen people that have some how been blind enough to draw parallels of quality between this and great film noirs, mysteries and crime films… That dare to even mention BLADE RUNNER within ten miles of this film.
I’d say that Tom Cruise’s John Anderton is closest in quality to Johnny Depp’s Fred Abberline in FROM HELL. There isn’t a character in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL or DETOUR or MURDER MY SWEET or DOUBLE INDEMNITY or KISS ME DEADLY or any good crime/film noir that I have in my collection that isn’t many times more involving than the dullards of this film.
Hell, compare the characters in that other Phillip K Dick adaptation by Ridley Scott. I think the key is… Those characters were not only ALIVE, but they wanted to stay ALIVE. In MINORITY REPORT – the characters are all in a daze. They’re just plain ol bored with life. They are not afraid of losing their lives, they’re worried about getting a glowing headband called a HALO placed on their brows. Now, the problem with this is you just don’t care about the punishment. In BLADE RUNNER, when you got got, your chest or head usually exploded and your life (artificial or not) was over. You felt their desperate clinging to life, how precious it was to them. Anderton… why does he struggle so for life? He escapes from it through drugs, his work… All that gave him happiness is gone, he deludes himself with videos he’s memorized, but why would he not want to have a headband put on his head to take away the memory of his loss.
AND Anderton is the most developed of all the characters.
Colin Farrell is my favorite character in the film as the by the book Detective Ed Witwer. He’s a by the book, right as rain, Dudley Do-Right of a character. He isn’t the self-righteous goody two-shoes that Ed Exley was in L.A. Confidential… He doesn’t have any of those layers of nuance or depth of character. I like Farrell, simply because Colin has an intrinsic charm that overcomes his character’s lack of development.
The other name actors are just paper thin though. Sydow is completely transparent. Tim Blake Nelson is playing this film, very much like he did his character in O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU… only that sort of character doesn’t belong here. And Samantha Morton’s Pre-Cog is simply a vocal characterization and my sympathy for her character is simply in line with anybody that would be forced into a life of complacent floatation with wires hooked up to em… Peter Stormare’s Dr Solomon is a horrendous doofus of a doctor… perhaps the worst doctor since the 1989 BATMAN doctor that worked on the Joker. Total cartoon. The worst cartoon has got to be played by Jason Antoon, whose Rufus Riley at the Cyber Parlor is just hands down one of the worst sidebar characters I’ve seen in quite sometime. Imagine if Quark from DEEP SPACE NINE could be considered a subtle humble silent considerate human being, this is the character that would make him look like that. It is awful.
The other cops in PRE-CRIME are just characterless. They’re just faces in uniforms. Nothing going on.
Now this breaks my heart. I spent all day at the movies. I had a great triple feature all planned out. It started with THE BOURNE IDENTITY, then INSOMNIA and would wrap up with MINORITY REPORT. They would all be ‘Cat & Mouse’ movies, and the best would be saved for last.
That was the master plan.
I have to admit, that I was captured by the spectacle of the film, but as soon as ‘the vision’ came that started Tom Cruise on his ‘run,’ the movie began unraveling for me. I don’t want to go into spoilers here, but folks… About ten minutes after the film, everything just started unraveling. Let me just ask you this one question. The Pre-Cogs can begin to see Pre-Meditated murder far in advance, but crimes of passion has a much shorter lead time. Now John Anderton’s case isn’t Pre-Meditated murder, it is a crime of passion. Now, given that it is a crime of passion, it couldn’t possibly have the 72 hour fore-warning that he got. I know that might be a teeny tiny paradox, but frankly a film establishes rules… says things for a reason. If the difference between Crimes of Passion and Premeditated Murder hadn’t been vocalized, it wouldn’t be an issue… BUT they chose to tell us that information… are we supposed to just ignore it?
Maybe my expectations were raised too high by the raves we’ve been reading online and offline. I went in hearing that this could be Spielberg’s best film since RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK… Don’t think that for a second.
The film has many exceptional qualities… The action is inventive, though the use of the infamous SHAKYCAM in the warehouse made me want to just kill. I loathe SHAKYCAM. John Williams’ score is exceptional, but it is enhanced by the wonderful use of classical works. The use of color and film stock in the movie was wonderful. I loved the look of the film.
While I’m not satisfied with the film, there is certainly enough about the film to recommend checking it out on the big screen, but governing your expectations would be a very very good thing. The mystery of the film was pretty weak in my opinion. The characters lacking. What is fantastic are the ideas mined from Phillip K Dick’s original story, the futurist research by Scott Frank in regards to the ‘sci-fi’ aspects are the best.
What separates this film from the best Spielberg is the lack of humanity. This film is completely lacking in the humanist nature of characters like Henry Jones Jr, Martin Brody, Roy Neary and Elliott. John Anderton is cut from the same cloth as Peter Banning and Henry Swinton.
I understand that this is going to be a minority report on MINORITY REPORT. By and large everyone I know loved the film. Frankly, the film was very disappointing for me. I was expecting the best Spielberg film in nearly 20 years, or at least a decade. Instead I got a fairly soulless movie that vaguely explores the concepts of a Big Brother government with the ability to enforce and convict based upon thoughts not yet acted upon. NOW… had that been realized.
Had we a film that showed the fear and paralization caused by not allowing yourself to contemplate or toy with ideas of murder, though technically it isn’t thoughts, it is the future. What about the families left behind? What would the old school detectives think about it? What about lawyers to represent the ‘pre-criminals’. How about using the visions of the future to confront the future criminals with, to get them to see, Jacob Marley-style, the error of their ways. I don’t know. The film had beautiful music, scenery and ideas… but it just didn’t all come together for me.
I wish I saw the film that Richard Corliss, Roger Ebert, Massawyrm, Nordling and others saw. Instead, I saw one of the most flawed and flimsy films in Spielberg’s career. As always, he captures spectacle with a flair few can dream of, only to place it in a film that left so much to be desired.