Sunday, June 23, 2002

Spoiler warning, I discus the plot and even the ending of Minority Report, though I discussion of the ending is kept to broad strokes.

I caught Minority Report last night. Minority Report is an action sci-fi film noir who-dunit with a sense of humor and style. At it's core Minority Report is an action flick, and the action is well done. It's not a body count movie like Total Recall, thanks in part to the use of non-lethal weapons in the near future. It has a couple of creative action scenes, the best, Tom Cruise's character has a Lexus built around him. Set around the year 2050, all the required sci-fi elements are deployed for the near future: Ubiquitous Advertising, Bio engineering, Orwellian scale monitoring and control, cool cars that zip up and down the side of buildings. One positive note, the future solves merging issues on the highway. All the effects are well done and meld well with the movie's sense of style. We'd expect nothing less from Steven Spielberg film As film noir, it seems a bit tacked on at times, like just being ugly for the sake of being ugly. If you didn't like the eye ball scenes in Blade Runner this movie won't be for you. With a little editing Minority Report could have been a good date movie, but Steven Spielberg seems to be trying just little too hard to prove that he can be gritty too. Towards the end of the movie the who dunit part of the movie kicks in with a decent mystery, but it takes a while to get there. There are several points in the movie where the audience laughed out loud. This movie has a definite sense of humor. For example Tom Cruise ends up chasing his eyes down a long ramp. Now that's funny. All of this is wrapped up in a streamlined art deco look and feel that works well.

There is one major flaw in Minority Report is that it tries to be a film about some deeper spiritual issue. Spielberg tries hard at this. They have three people who live in the "temple" and form a single hive mind. One character, who spent three years at Fuller Seminary, talks about the relationship between the oracles and the priests and how power rests with the priests. And there are some high school level discussions of predetermination vs. free choice. Ok so I had some pretty nerdy discussions in high school. However Spielberg answers the question of free choice vs. predestination in a very simple binary fashion. On top of that when our free will is reconfirmed, Spielberg wraps up all the details in a neat and tidy Hollywood ending sort of way. Predicting the future has allowed the cops of 2050 to eliminate all murders for period of six years in crime ridden Washington DC. When it shown that system is less than perfect, it is abandoned, cause it's an affront to our humanity and our free will. Of course it is, but I don't see a society that has abandoned privacy for a nightmare of customer intimacy, giving up a near perfect murder prevention system just cause it can fail once in while, or because it offends human dignity. It's as if at the end of Blade Runner they decide to let all the replicants retire to nice little colony and close down the Tyrell Corporation. Reports of Steven Spielberg 's conversion to cynicism have been greatly exaggerated. This neat, clean ending undermines the film's attempt at being true film noir. It might as well have been a good date movie.


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