This underrated Philip K. Dick adaptation is an absolute sci-fi gem by Spielberg and a legitimate contender for the most entertaining, cerebral sci-fi thriller of the 2000s decade.
Cast: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow
Plot: In the future, a group of psychics have visions that allow crimes to be prevented before they can occur. But when one man believes he is wrongly accused, he must find out a way to prove his innocence.
Awards: Nom. for 1 Oscar – Best Sound Editing
Subject Matter: Moderate – Crime, Morality, Systems
Narrative Style: Complex
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
First Published: 1 Jan 2011
Based on a short story by the great sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, whose work inspired popular films such as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), and Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall (1990), the film adaptation of Minority Report is a cause for celebration for fans of the genre.
Directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 2002, Minority Report may be the most entertaining, cerebral sci-fi thriller of the 2000s decade.
For a Spielberg picture, Minority Report is quite underrated; it is not very often cited among “Spielberg’s Popcorn Greats” such as Jaws (1975), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and Jurassic Park (1993), and I feel that needs to change now.
Minority Report is set in the future in which criminals are caught before they commit their crimes. A special Pre-Crime unit headed by John Anderton (Tom Cruise) takes advantage of three Pre-Cogs who have the ability to ‘see’ a crime, and identify its perpetrator and victim before the crime is committed.
This has effectively prevented criminals acts from happening for years…until one day the system accuses John of murdering a stranger called Leo Crow. Determined to prove his innocence, John has to escape from the clutches of Pre-Crime officers hunting for him while trying to find answers to his predicament.
First, Spielberg’s direction is top-notch. He sets up the story and introduces how Pre-Crime works in a lengthy prologue that is an exciting prelude of what is to come. With an extremely potent blend of quick cuts and kinetic movements within shots, the film is fast-paced, engaging, and in some parts, very tense.
“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
One sequence, in which electronic spiders scurry about in an apartment to find John, is vintage Spielberg. In an elaborate long take in this sequence, the camera rises above a huge set consisting of rooms and walls as it tracks in and out as if spying on its occupants.
In addition, towards the end of the above-mentioned sequence, there is a bathtub scene that gives Minority Report its most suspenseful peak. In the canon of Spielberg moments, this should be considered one of them.
Interestingly, the approach is quite similar to the ‘alien pod in the basement’ sequence in War of the Worlds (2005), another underrated Spielberg sci-fi thriller. Cruise, who appears in both films, gives a decent performance here, and he is ably backed up by a strong supporting cast consisting of Colin Farrell, Max von Sydow, and Samantha Morton.
Spielberg keeps audiences on their toes by structuring the film like a mystery. There is a sinister truth, in fact multiple truths, that await Cruise’s character (and the viewer). And the payoff is beyond expectations.
Twisting and turning like a writhing snake, Minority Report haunts as much as it entertains. It is Spielberg at his best, and for those who deride Hollywood for their infamous ability to churn out brainless popcorn flicks, here is one very excellent example of the contrary.