Overview: Based on the Philip K. Dick short story of the same name, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report follows “Precrime” cop John Anderton (Tom Cruise) as he navigates his way through a dense mystery to try and prove his innocence of a crime he did not commit. 2002; 20th Century Fox; PG-13; 145 minutes.
“You dig up the past, all you get is dirty.”: When we first see Tom Cruise’s character, a cocksure and talented DC cop, he’s running around solving cases with a skill and precision that only comes standard to the main character of an action film. Later on, we see the same cop in his apartment, getting high and looking over home videos of his dead son. Except this isn’t the same cop we saw earlier. Hell, it’s not even the same movie. Minority Report sets itself up to be a run-of-the-mill action sci-fi thriller that blasts into theaters with a bang and leaves the multiplexes (and the memories of the people who watched it) almost just as soon. But this is not that film. After the first scene, the veneer is pulled back, and in place of the bang-bang extravaganza promised we get an emotionally raw picture concerned almost solely with memory as a concept. The filter through Spielberg’s sentimentality is sometimes a bit much, but mostly it is, simply put, brilliant.
Our Memories Never Really Fade: Spielberg shoots the entirety of the movie in an intriguing overexposed style that makes everything look as if it’s one long flashback, a single eternal memory of a procedural gone wrong. The future, while clearly being “The Future”, almost feels like the past, or someone’s memory of the future. This is partially due to the unrealistic (yet thematically rich) Dick-ian future in which the film takes place. Its logic is somewhat absurd; the vision of the future is nothing more than fantasy, a far cry from any foreseeable future. But this is the nature of Philip K. Dick. Like many great satirists and science fiction writers of his day, he took an impractical snapshot of a future from a modern lens and used this fabricated world to put forth political points and tell an overall gripping story. His masterpiece, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, reflects this best. Using a totally ridiculous future to talk about the lack of humanity and empathy in modern society, Minority Report is no different. Yet, this time Dick (with the interpretive influence of Spielberg) is tackling memory and its effect on people through a future involving the far out ideas of precognition and electronic roadways. John Anderton is a damaged man. The “scars he carries around” come in the form of brainwaves and photographs. For all of us, they are the past. For Anderton, they are the present. And the only one he knows.
Overall: While occasionally cliché and sentimental, Minority Report is mostly a beautiful and entertaining look at one man’s memory and his quest to save it.