La La Land has just released Minority Report as the latest in their series of expanded John Wiliams soundtracks; its not a score I’m particularly fond of so I’ll be saving my money on that one, but the news did get me deciding it was past time I dug out my old Blu-ray and gave the film another watch. Its been years since I’d seen this last.
Considering it came out in 2002, when Spielberg was well into his grown-up, more adult-orientated, ‘take me more seriously’ period, Minority Report is surprisingly juvenile. Indeed its a really mainstream, rather dumb science fiction film posing as something highbrow and dark. Its quite surprising to see how it poses as a science fiction future-noir film, with the obvious nods to Blade Runner, Gattaca etc, but all the time maintains Spielberg’s routine safety-net of warmth and lack of edginess.
I could go on about the films horrible ‘nice’ ending with its comfortable message that the good guys win and the bad guys don’t, and how it all feels like bullshit. I prefer to watch Minority Report safe in the knowledge that everything once Anderton is Haloed is just a fantasy in his imprisoned head. I prefer to imagine that after Anderton is ‘victorious’ the film should segue to a cut ‘real’ ending that features Sydow’s villain seen heading up a flourishing National Pre-Crime department with suggestions that in future any non-authorised, say, anti-establishment thinking will become a crime too. You know, something genuinely dark that pulls the rug from under the audience.
Because anyone who thinks its not a WTF moment when the crime-scene stuff (like Anderton’s gun, the murder weapon for goodness sake, or his bag of original eyes) is just put in a box of his personal belongings so that his wife can go all vigilante and just walk into the prison to free him… I mean Jesus in a handbag, that’s so crazy it deserves all the contempt it can get.
I was always troubled by the premise that the whole drama about the expansion of the Pre-Crime unit going National with the three Pre-cogs was nonsensical. How would it even work? Those three Pre-Cogs would just go into meltdown if they had to ‘read’ all the Nations dirty murderous minds, and I don’t believe there was any method of making more Pre-Cogs (a few times they are described as miracles). I actually think the script missed a trick there- if the actual conspiracy that Anderton and Agatha was uncovering was that a secret government department was canvasing medical records for children with nascent psi-abilities and was snatching them for genetic experiments to develop their talents and turn them into Pre-cogs, that national expansion thing would make sense and, more importantly, tie into Anderton’s personal history of his son being snatched. Immediately that back-story takes more importance, and there’s a nicer ending in which Anderton finds his son alive in a lab or indeed being enslaved as a Pre-Cog. The irony of his son’s disappearance being directly linked to his job and vocation, thus undermining his whole life/career, would be a lovely noir twist with which the film would justify its adult future-noir aspirations.
But hey, I’m doing Hollywood’s job again. They pay scriptwriters and producers a hell of a lot to not come up with ideas like this.
2 thoughts on “Pre-Crime Doesn’t Pay: Minority Report”
Oddly enough, I picked up a copy of this on Blu from a charity shop the other week for a couple of quid and thought I’d give it another try.
I remembered it being lumpy and indigestible and pretty rubbish back then; but other people seemed to like it and I thought I might give it another go.
But no, it was dross. Glossy, trying-too-hard-to-be-edgy, it reminded me of a TV mini-series that might have felt cutting edge at the time but is hideously dated a few years later.
I lasted about half an hour before I gave up and put it in the cupboard to go back to charity.
The effects have also dated very badly. I think that’s a clear issue with CGI- its not quite like the miniature effects days when one can forgive dodgy mattes etc, with 1980s films, with CGI its really all or nothing. The bleached-out, high-grain look of the films cinematography may have been an attempt to hide the rough edges of some of that CGI but it doesn’t work from today’s perspective. It just looks blurred and cartoony- I dread to think what it would like in 4K. That’s one disc I will find it easy to simply avoid.
Funnily enough, that glossy, trying to pretend to be edgy thing is exactly what was also wrong with Spielberg’s Ready Player One, and the effects work on that didn’t largely convince either. When I think how down to earth and measured both Jaws and CE3K were, its clear that success and riches didn’t really do Spielberg many favours with future genre work. I’m almost afraid to re-watch AI, because I liked that, and have to wonder how it holds up today.