Spielberg’s Minority Report contains some of science fiction cinema’s most accurate depictions of future technology. The film’s realistic vision of 2054 emphasises some of the moral questions that the film decides to asks. Precrime, a company dedicated to eliminating murder and violent crime from the streets, use three gifted individuals, named pre-cogs, to predict murders and arrest and punish the culprits before the acts have been committed. The film begins by pointing out that the future may be pre-determined. Yet, when Chief Anderton is faced with a predicted murder committed by himself he has no choice but to run, hide and try to resolve his situation. Minority Report is as much a film noir film as a science fiction film. As we journey with Anderton – played by Tom Cruise – through his struggles to work out his situation and alter the direction of his future, we begin to become as tangled up in this predicament as he is.
The murder mystery element of Minority Report keeps you gripped and it is delightful to join Anderton as he asks one of the greatest questions that cinema can ask…”who done it?“ Tom Cruise, who I tend to find intolerable, is perfectly fitted to the role of John Anderton, our classic neo-noir protagonist who is trying to protect and heal his society whilst coping with his personal drug addiction and his mourning over the abduction of his son and the estrangement from his wife. Anderton’s private battles with addiction and grief shape him and it is through his flaws that we can recognise similarities to Deckard in Blade Runner. With both films being adapted from works of the insightful Philip K. Dick, there are many similar themes that lurk in the corners of both films. Minority Report may not be as much of a masterpiece as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner but it does refer to memory, freedom, humanity and freewill in similar ways.
Anderton, who faces a future that has been decided for him, makes the ultimate decision to change his path and move on from the tragic past that defines him. His relationship and the time spent with Agatha, the female pre-cog who helps with his escape and the unearthing of a confusing murder from years ago, enables him to accept the decisions he has made and to cope with them. At the heart of Minority Report there are some fascinating insights into the importance of the past and how it shapes the human race. John Anderton is made vulnerable by his memories and this makes him easy to manipulate and betray. As well as the interesting religious connotations, the symbols of eyes and the disorientation of a society drowning in dystopia – striving for a crime free utopia – Minority Report is an all-round enjoyable and engaging movie.
Samantha Morton gives a breath-taking performance as Agatha. She is haunting, aggressive and gracefully angelic. The constantly changing pace of this film holds your attention and, despite varying in pace, never feels disjointed. Spielberg demonstrates just what a great film maker he is here. The complex narrative, that does not patronise the intelligence of the audience, makes this one of the most substantial contemporary American science fiction films of the last few decades. The cinematography is exciting, attractive and enhances the overall mood of the characters and the story. Minority Report draws us into a future where our conscience and emotions are manipulated and used against us, making us guilty of acts we never even get a chance to perform. Precrime represents a future where society is being protected but paying the price. By extracting freewill and the opportunity to change our future, Precrime represents a future where faith in humanity has been completely lost.
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