One of the friends I went to see this movie
with remarked that ever since Titanic, movies
have been unafraid to break the 90-minute barrier. Sometimes
this is a good thing, and Minority Report
is one of those times. If they had tried to pare this movie
down a lot, it would have been a little too action-oriented.
Even though the action was good, the story was there, and it
deserved to have some time of its own.
That’s pretty much the problem with any sci-fi movie. On the
one hand, the movie medium kind of lends itself to putting up
flashy effects on the screen and letting the eye candy do the
job for you. On the other hand, science fiction as a genre is
really born out of the “what if” speculations of putting people
we can relate to in situations that would be wholly unfamiliar
to us. And that’s all about story. Therefore, so much sci-fi
is bad because this is really a fine line to walk.
Anyway, this movie didn’t exactly knock my socks off, but it
was worth a matinee. It takes place in the near future. Tom
Cruise plays a Washington, DC police “detective” who is a member
of the Precrimes division, where the premonitions of three clairvoyants
kept in a near-sleep state are used to arrest people and put
them in a prison of suspended animation indefinitely. There’s
some truly pretentious nonsense about how the clairvoyants can
only see future murders because ending someone’s life is the
only act that sufficiently disrupts the metaphysical zeitgeist
for the “pre-cogs” to clearly see. It’s supposed to have prevented
all murders for the past nine years. Suddenly the next vision
has Tom Cruise perpetrating a murder himself, and the movie
turns into a chase movie.
As far as the plot goes, the threads get tied up a little too
neatly in the end for my liking. It seems that if these pieces
had been lying around like they had, then somebody would have
made some noise before nine years had gone by. Most of the future
realization was good, and the stunts were entertaining. It’s
pretty extreme measures to go to, using clairvoyants to prevent
murders and having a team of commandos ready to be sent out
anywhere in the city on a moment’s notice, but apparently murders
had spiked. I’m sure it couldn’t have anything to do with the
fact that the cities had become so overcrowded that people were
stacked up in mile-high towers, right?
Anyway, that takes us to the main point, the idea of taking
away someone’s liberty for the threat they pose, instead of
the acts they’ve committed. It’s pretty timely, what with the
federal government now keeping four U.S. citizens in indefinite
detention, and it’s especially reminiscent of Jose Padilla’s
case. The best sci-fi acts as a mirror to our own selves. I
think the movie could have held up the mirror a little more
closely; I was disappointed, especially since so many people
are going to walk out of this movie without really confronting
this basic issue for themselves. A movie doesn’t need to preach,
but it did pass up a golden opportunity to allow itself to be
a real springboard for discussion about what has become a very
important point of citizenship. I mean, if a movie like A.I.
can open up so much discussion about what a freaky movie A.I.
is, this could spark discussion too, right?