The theme of a man accused of a crime who runs from the police to prove his innocence is a very cinematic one. Alfred Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST and the recent movie THE FUGITIVE, with Harrison Ford, show just how popular and exciting this idea can be. Steven Spielberg’s new thriller, MINORITY REPORT, wonderfully combines elements of both movies in a complex science fiction setting starring Tom Cruise.
In the year 2054 in Washington, D.C., murder has been eliminated. A new illegal drug called neorin has produced three children, two twin boys and a girl named Agatha, who can see future murders being committed. The local police have attached computer electrodes to the heads of these drug-addicted children to tap into their visions.
Tom Cruise plays Detective John Anderton, a troubled policeman who has become head of the Pre-Crime Unit because of the disappearance of his son Sean six years ago. John works under the tutelage of his former boss in Baltimore, Lamar Burgess, terrifically played by the great Max von Sydow.
A Justice Dept. official, Danny Witwer, comes to Pre-Crime to audit the system and make sure it has no flaws, on the eve of a national referendum to apply the system to the rest of the country. John becomes suspicious of the ambitious Witwer’s motives. His suspicions become heightened when the “pre-cog” children, now young adults, predict that John himself will murder a total stranger in less than 36 hours. Followed by Witwer and his own police unit, John runs away to find out who set him up. Is it possible for the Pre-Cogs to be wrong?
MINORITY REPORT is an intense, exciting science fiction thriller. Making John’s job of proving his innocence harder is the fact that the whole city is wired with retina scans that help the police, and advertisers, track your every move. No one has any privacy anymore because, as soon as you enter a store, moving billboards scan your eyes and ask you to buy something while they address you by your own name. In fact, they sometimes even ask you to buy something which the computers show you have bought previously. This theme puts a delightful spin on the paranoia displayed by Cary Grant’s character in NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Although the context to this social commentary may be left-of-center political leanings, the movie doesn’t try to place a strong partisan spin to it. In fact, warnings about the Computer Age, Big Business and Big Government often can be quite conservative, politically speaking.
MINORITY REPORT opens in spectacular fashion with Tom Cruise’s character stopping a man’s murder of his wife and her lover. Once Det. John Anderton is accused of the crime, the movie takes viewers on a wild roller coaster ride filled with chase scenes and elaborately choreographed fight scenes. From there, however, the movie gets a bit dingy and dirty when John has to go underground. John develops a plan that leads him to an unscrupulous, nasty doctor and an oily computer programmer with a hologram parlor that indulges people’s fantasies, including sexual ones. Thus, the middle part of the movie contains several gruesome images of detached eyeballs and brief images of depicted fornication. These images deserve an R-rating, not the PG-13 rating that the corrupt Motion Picture Association of America has decided to give Spielberg and Cruise’s movie. Of course, Spielberg could still have depicted these edgy, film noir situations in a much more reserved fashion. Such restraint might even have earned this movie a deserved PG rating.
MINORITY REPORT gets back on track in the last third of its story, however. Det. Anderton eventually repairs his broken world. He even manages to repair his broken family, although nothing, of course, can make up for the loss of his first child.
Despite the problematic content in the middle of its story, MINORITY REPORT has a strong moral ending that is also somewhat redemptive. The innocent are eventually let go, and the guilty suffer their just desserts. The movie encourages viewers to sympathize with this uplifting outcome.
Even so, MOVIEGUIDE® believes MINORITY REPORT is appropriate, if at all, only for older audiences. Such viewers might find this movie worth seeing more than once, not only for Steven Spielberg’s brilliant cinematic vision but also for Tom Cruise’s excellent performance (not to mention their fabulous supporting cast). In addition to being a provocative, dense, well-constructed science fiction fantasy, MINORITY REPORT is an archetypal film noir that will probably do well at the box office, despite its edgier, more objectionable elements. One only wishes that Spielberg would stop trying to please amoral secular critics with modern, edgy material. Great artists can create mature material and appeal to older audiences without including the kinds of objectionable material that God wants everyone to avoid.
(BBB, C, H, Acap, LL, VVV, SS, N, A, DD, M) Strong moral worldview with redemptive elements (including slightly ambiguous Christian ones), some light humanist qualities in a liberal sense, including a possible anti-capitalism theme; 11 obscenities, four strong profanities and eight mild profanities; much action violence plus some gory, extreme elements regarding stabbing and especially eye transplant, including sonic gunfight, chase scenes, man jumps from car to car, vision of man stabbing his wife and her lover, fist fighting, wrestling, suicide, man shot in chest, visions of woman being drowned, electric shocks delivered via police stun sticks, men with jetpacks crash through buildings, and gruesome images of detached eyeballs; brief depicted simulated sex in computerized hologram parlor and implied adultery; upper male nudity, image of woman’s back from behind and obscured upper female nudity through comatose woman’s mesh medical outfit; alcohol use; drug use depicted; and, murderer frames policeman, some possible creeping liberalism in movie’s cultural, political content, and Christian man is too ambitious and his moral conscience awakens too late, but he seems to find comfort in his religious faith at the end.
Tom Cruise stars in MINORITY REPORT, Steven Spielberg’s new science fiction thriller about three drug abuse victims used by the police to stop future murderers. Cruise plays Det. John Anderton, the leader of the Pre-Crime Unit in Washington, D.C. in the year 2054. When Cruise himself becomes a murder suspect, he escapes to find out whether the system is as flawless as he thought it was. Exciting chase scenes and elaborately choreographed fight scenes ensue as John also tries to discover who might be setting him up.
MINORITY REPORT is an intense, exciting science fiction thriller for mature audiences. It has a moral point of view, but contains some brief, gratuitous sexual references, drug content, several gruesome images, and foul language. Despite its problematic, adult moments, older viewers might find this movie worth seeing more than once, not only for Steven Spielberg’s brilliant cinematic vision but also for Tom Cruise’s excellent performance, not to mention their fabulous supporting cast. In addition to being a provocative, dense, well-constructed science fiction fantasy, MINORITY REPORT is also an archetypal film noir. Older teenagers and adults should, of course, exercise extreme caution regarding the movie’s edgier, more questionable material