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Minority Report Review Tim 
Posted by: Tim at 11:00 PM EST on 7/2/2002
File Under: Movies -> Cinema -> Review

Minority Report. Unless you have been living under a rock on Mars with your fingers in your ears while reciting the alphabet to yourself in a very loud voice, you have probably heard of it. If you haven't, then I'll just tell you it's a sci-fi adventure starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg. So, even if it sucked, it'd still make a billion dollars anyway. Lucky for us moviegoers, though, it didn't suck. In fact, I thought it was pretty damn good. Granted it had its flaws, but considering the tripe that studios usually put out in the summer and masquerade as blockbusters, Minority Report really stands out.

The year is 2054 and Washington D.C. has been testing a new system for the past six years that, through the use of psychics (or "pre-cogs," as the movie calls them), allows them to detect ahead of time when a murder is going to take place and who is going to be involved in it. This "pre-crime" division then tracks down the suspect, arrests them, and locks them up before they ever have a chance to commit the crime.

(Now, if you're particularly worried about spoilers, you might want to skip the next two paragraphs. Just a word of warning.)

At first, it appears this system is working perfectly. There have been absolutely no murders in the Washington D.C. area in the last six years, and they are campaigning vigorously to have it implemented nationwide. That is, until a detective in the division, John Anderton (Tom Cruise), shows up in the pre-cogs' visions. Believing he has been set up, he runs and confides his dilemma in one of the researchers who initially developed the pre-crime system. He finds out that the system is not, in fact, perfect, and that sometimes one of the pre-cogs sees an alternate future. When this happens, these "Minority Reports" are simply ignored and the suspected culprit is tracked down and arrested anyway.

Believing he truly is innocent of the crime that is going to be committed, Anderton is determined to return to headquarters and uncover his case's Minority Report and prove his innocence by uncovering his alternate future. This sets up a chain of events involving everything from eye transplants to Anderton (maybe) finding the man who killed his son six years before to uncovering secrets about a long past murder case.

Unfortunately, the writers decided to only briefly touch on the morality issues of using pychic humans essentially as slaves, and of imprisioning someone who has never actually committed a crime. I really believe these are the true questions that this movie brings up, but they're largely ignored. Instead, we're treated to a lot of really excellent special effects and action scenes. Why not have both action AND make the viewers think at the same time? While the plotline really is one of the better ones I've seen come out of sci-fi movies since maybe The Matrix, (except for a few holes) I can't help but feel like they dumbed it down a bit just to make sure people didn't question any of this if they didn't want to.

One of the most redeeming factors of this movie, I felt, is how the CGI special effects were handled. Steven Spielberg (thankfully) decided not to go the same route as George Lucas and computerize the fuck out of everything. Instead, we get a world that (for good reason) looks very much like our own, but with cool futuristic additions thrown in for good measure. I particularly liked the scene with the electronic "spiders" that were sent out to scour a building in search of Anderton. This is how CGI should be used - to add to a scene that truly needs and benefits from it. One CGI scene full of animated advertisements that called people by name through the use of eye scanners, which established how impossible it was for Anderton to hide, went a bit overboard with the product placement, though.

My only other real complaint was that the movie simply didn't end when it should have. At well over two hours long, I started getting a bit restless. Now, if a movie is three hours long and completely engaging the entire way through, I have no problem blissfully sitting and watching it without even noticing the time. The problem with Minority Report is that it didn't end at the point in the plot that I felt it should have. There was a very climactic point about twenty minutes before the end of the movie that would have served as a great ending. It would have left viewers with a coherent resolution, but it would have also kept everyone thinking and discussing if the police had done the right thing.

(If you haven't seen the movie yet, DON'T read the next paragraph. Come back when you have.)

Tying in with my feelings that the writers should have further explored the moral dilemma that this pre-crime system brings up, I really felt like the subplot with Ann Lively should have been left out, and the movie should have ended when Anderton was arrested and locked up. Instead, we're given twenty more minutes for him to be let out and wrap everything up in a nice happy little ending. Again, it simply felt like they avoided making any true statement simply to keep the movie masses happy.

Final Verdict: Recommended. Despite eschewing the tough questions the story brings up, it still manages to remain highly entertaining with CGI effects that are extremely well used, but not overdone (e.g. Star Wars) and some good action sequences to boot.
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