Old Stuff

Minority Report (2002)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

The year is 2054. Detective John Anderton (Tom Cruise), the top cop in the elite Pre-Crime Unit in Washington D.C., manipulates a series of holographic images with the skill of an orchestra conductor. They are indisputable visions of the future - the combined thought processes of the pre-cogs - three docile psychics suspended in an isolation pool -held hostage by their gifts. Each of their visions match, pinpointing the location of a murder that will take place in the immediate future. The clock is ticking away. Anderton races off with his elite squad to the scene of the pre-crime to arrest a hapless husband (Arye Gross) ready to wreak vengeance on his faithless wife and her lover with a millisecond to spare in Steven Spielbergh's sci-fi noir, "Minority Report."

Minority Report

Little thought is given to the rights of the poor husband or any of the other inmates of the futuristic prison where they are kept in a state of suspended animation. Washington D.C. has been murder free for six years. Why argue with success?

The pre-cogs are the cornerstone of the pre-crime program, but it's Tom Anderton's devotion to duty, driven by his own personal loss over the unsolved kidnapping of his son and the break up of his marriage, that helped make the Pre-Crime Program a success. His personal life is less successful. He is an adrenaline junkie. The rush of his day job is augmented by the latest pre-fab street drugs by night. When not working, he wallows in his misery by watching holographic videos of his missing son. Then the pre-cogs conjure up Tom Anderton's image.

Anderton must not only run for his life, but find the man he's supposed to kill to prove his innocence. And if he can do that, then there is a flaw in the system. If there is a flaw in the system, he must find it to vindicate himself and justify the arrests that formed the building blocks of his career. The only thing that can save him is a Minority Report - a secret document that will detail discrepancies in the visions of the pre-cogs for his case.

Anderton is first and foremost a cop - a leader who knows every man and woman in his unit better than they know themselves. He anticipates their every move staying one step ahead. The one wild card is an F.B.I. agent (Colin Farrel) who is investigating the veracity of the claims by the father (Max von Sydow) of the Pre-Crime Program. He pursues Tom through the underbelly of his world in a society where the right to privacy is a thing of the past. Little bug-like robots invade homes scanning retinas of the innocent in search of the guilty, shopping malls flash his face on futuristic monitors hawking goods and services catered to his needs, cars speed on horizontal and vertical freeways, eyeballs are for sale on the black market and no citizen, at least in Washington, D.C. is free from the scrutiny of the Pre-Crime Unit. The piece-de-resistance is a scene with Anderton running through a mall with the most gifted pre-cog (Samantha Morton) while they elude their pursuers using her foresight to choose the route of escape. She simultaneously blurts warnings to unsuspecting individuals whose minor mishaps will occur just seconds away.

Minority Report

"Minority Report" is a hybrid full of references to such films as from Howard Hawks' "The Big Sleep," Akira Kuorsawa's "High and Low" and the more recent "L.A. Confidential" to name a few. The short story by Philp K. Dick is the foundation Spielbergh and his screen writers, Scott Frank and Jon Cohen use to build the rest of their movie. They've created a classic thriller that reminds us of the uniqueness of our Governmental system and the reason why the principle - A man is innocent until proven guilty - is one of the pillars of our criminal justice system. -- Rating: $9.50

Two other films adapted from stories by Philip K. Dick

"Blade Runner" (1982) - Ridley Scott creates a bleak vision of the future about an L.A. cop (Harrison Ford) trying to capture some renegade androids (the late Brion James, Darryl Hannah, and Rutger Hauer). Based on "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep".

"Total Recall" (1990) - Paul Verhoeven's violent sci-fi thriller about stolen identity, mind control and the corrupting influence of power. Arnold Schwarzeneger is the hero. A special effects bonanza that won a well deserved Oscar.

Some of the other films that could have easily influenced "Minority Report"

"Metropolis" (1926) - Fritz Lang's silent classic that is a point of reference for every futuristic movie made after 1925. The son of an industrialist gives up his life of privilege in sympathy with the downtrodden workers. Brigitte Helm has the dual role of the socially conscious Maria and the robot created in her image to stir up a workers' revolt so they can be squashed by the power elite.

"The Big Sleep" (1946) - Howard Hawks brought Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe to the screen with snappy dialogue and plenty of atmosphere. Compare the greenhouse scene in this with the one in "Minority Report." Coincidental? Maybe.

"High and Low" (1963) - Akira Kurosawa's adaptation of an Ed McBain novel takes Toshiro Mifune from the heavens of his privileged life at the top of the corporate ladder to the hell of the Japanese underworld when he tries to rescue the son of his chauffeur who was mistaken for his son and kidnapped. Parallels can in be inferred to the kidnapping of Anderton's son and Spielbergh's vision of the futuristic underworld.

"L.A. Confidential" (1997) - Oscar winning modern noir about corruption and violence in the detective's unit of the LAPD. To voice the parallels is to ruin some key scenes in "Minority Report." Curtis Hanson directs and Cameron Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce are the detectives. Kim Basinger won an Oscar for playing a call girl made to look like Veronica Lake.

Copyright 2002 Greg Murray

Old Stuff