FILM PHONICS: “MINORITY REPORT”

Word of the week: Port

MINORITY REPORT

* * * 1/2

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writers: Scott Frank and Jon Cohen

Producers: Jan de Bont, Bonnie Curtis, Gerald R. Molen, and Walter F. Parkes

Starring: Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Steve Harris, Neal McDonough, Jessica Capshaw, Patrick Kilpatrick, Colin Farrell, and Samantha Morton

2002

Minority Report: Who Is Ann Lively?

Part guessing game, part Tango, the possible candidates for a Film Phonics review depend on chance, reader-votes, and, when necessary, ingenuity. For Week Three, I threw in what turned out to be the winner because I couldn’t think of a film with “port” in its name. A gambol—yes, I actually did skip enthusiastically—through the drama and action sections of my neighborhood Blockbuster brought me face to face with a film whose title contained “port” in some way, shape, or form: “Minority Report.”

Steven Spielberg showed audiences what the future could be like if robots were made to look and behave like humans in his 2001 film “A.I.” Most of it was quite good, but as many filmgoers criticized, the ending was not so good. In his film “Minority Report” (2002), Spielberg once again presents the audience with an idea of what the future might be like; and in the process, he has redeemed himself.

The year is 2054. John Anderton (Tom Cruise) works in a special branch of the police department in D.C. responsible for arresting future criminals with the help of three “Pre-Cogs,” who see future murders. The entire process should be but isn’t simple. As the film reveals, not only is free will pitted against pre-determination, which leads to endless philosophical and theological discussions, but conflict arises when Anderton discovers that not all Pre-Cogs agree on the future murders they see. Such an occurrence becomes a “minority report”—infrequent but nonetheless existent incidents where the Pre-Cogs do not see a future homicide happening in the same way. Consequently, someone could be wrongfully arrested. Furthermore, only murders can be seen; rapes, assaults, and suicides cannot be foreseen.

Detective Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) is sent by the Attorney General to the “Pre-Crime” unit to observe and find out if there are any imperfections with the system. Anderton stubbornly believes that “the system is perfect” until Agatha (Samantha Morton), the most skilled of the three Pre-Cogs, leads him to suspect otherwise. When Anderton sees himself as the killer in a future murder, he is convinced that the system is flawed. Desperate to prove his innocence, Anderton runs against time, against his own men, and against his own future.

Spielberg hasn’t always ended his films in the most narratively satisfying way, but in this case, he manages to draw his film to a “gestalt” end. It leaves the viewer with something complete—perhaps it’s because “Minority Report” is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. Spielberg also demonstrates his remarkable talent for choosing the right kind of camera movement for each scene, creating momentum that enhances claustrophobic spaces and utilizes different lenses for specific spatial dimensions.

My Tom Cruise phase began when he starred in Neil Jordan’s 1995 film adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel “Interview with the Vampire;” however, adoration of his facial features, his vampiric smile, and even his voice petered out eventually. By the time “Minority Report” was released, I held him in neutral regard. In light of his 2005 summer antics, I almost don’t want to mention it, but Tom Cruise is fantastic in Spielberg’s film. He doesn’t over-act, and the viewer feels sympathetic towards his situation. Colin Farrell’s talent is also impressive, and he’s quite the scene-stealer.

In the never-ending debate of free will vs. pre-determination, “Minority Report” causes us to question whether or not a person’s knowing about the future makes the future happen. I’ve always wanted to know if Oedipus would’ve killed his father and married his mother if he was never abandoned. Would the same thing happen if his parents kept him in their home? I once read that a man went to a psychic who told him that he would die the next day. The man became so worried that he had a heart attack and died. Would the man have died if he wasn’t told about dying? Can people really change their futures? Agatha continues to remind Anderton that he still has a choice.

Every week, Stina Chyn puts her viewing habits in your hands. Readers vote on five random words posted at Back Talk every Tuesday. The winning word dictates what she will have to watch and review the following week as that word must appear in the title of the movie. Choose wisely!




Posted on September 6, 2005 in Features by
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