It’s almost hard to believe the first decade of this new millennium is almost over, but that just means we get to start debating what were the best films of this young century and why we think so. Over the next six months we will have a series of essays of my reflection and discussion on what made these films great to me and why I would love for you readers to seek them out. So sit back, take a gander, and let me know what you think. Agree, disagree, call me an idiot, but let me know in the comments why you loved it, hated it, or thought these films were just ok. So without further ado lets take a look at the decade’s best…
Steven Spielberg’s – Minority Report (2002)
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s story is a rare blend of sci-fi, social commentary, major effects, action, noir mystery, and fun that is a blast to try and figure out and experience.
Set in the not to distant future murder has been essentially eradicated in the Washington D.C. area do to a new agency called Precrime. Using three psychics who are capable of seeing heinous crimes in the future, Precrime is able to take their memories and investigate the crime before it happens and bring the offender to justice before they ever actually get to commit the crime. As Precrime is about to be voted on to be taken nationally, Precrime Chief John Anderton and his organization are under put under audit by Danny Witwer who represents the Department of Justice. Anderton, who lost his only son to kidnapping, unfortunately finds himself to psychotropic narcotics sold illegally on the streets and sits alone at home alone watching videos of his son and ex-wife as paranoia that Witwer is after his job and Precrime festers on his brain. The paranoia hits its apex when the next murder that comes across Precrime’s table is that of one Leo Crow and the murder is Anderton himself. Having to avoid arrest, Anderton is forced on the run from Precrime and goes on a search for answers as to why and how he was set up. The mystery slowly unfolds as Anderton takes drastic step after step to get the answers to his crime.
Tom Cruise stars as Anderton and him and Spielberg work very well together. The biggest action star at the time, Spielberg plots fabulous and sprawling chase scenes that take us all over the futuristic Washington D.C. The city itself was conceived by a team of futurists who lead the design teams as to where they should be heading with their futuristic ideas for the city and Spielberg uses every nuance to great effect. From the eye scanners, virtual experiences, magnetic car system, and police advancements, Spielberg has a wonderful world of toys and elements to play with and he makes the most. From the car jumping escape scene, the spider police probes, and the non-lethal weapons displayed in fights Spielberg creates some great fights and tension that make the man on the run film fresh again.
The twists and turns keep on coming as the picture unfolds and Spielberg never lets the tension die as he grabs you by the collar and rarely lets you breathe. Pairing the chase with the mystery around the crime slowly unfolding between Anderton and Witwer’s investigation give the film substance making the action actually mean something as everyone, the character and the viewers, work towards the deadline that is the time the murder is supposed to occur. Spielberg also keeps a steady stream of humor around as well and the film is just a marvel of genre juggling that can only be handled by a few directors out there.
The film is even capable of raising a few intriguing questions to the viewers to discuss with the morality of incarcerating people who have committed no crime or the essential enslaving of a human being for their gifts.
The acting in the film is also quite good across the board with Cruise having one of his better turns and getting a bit more to do outside the normal big budget fare he was involved in. Added on top of this was Colin Farrell’s mainstream coming out party in getting to play the confident and cocky Witwer. Samantha Morton also gets to shine and breakout as the pre-cog Agatha getting to show a wide range from the weird to touching as the confused seer.
In the end, Minority Report is as action packed and fun filled as you could ask a film to be. Entertaining and interesting from start to finish, it is almost a perfect example of how to do sci-fi for the mainstream audience. Great effects, smart story, clever action, and solid turn by a superstar make this film both accessible and great. While it may succumb to a couple of Spielberg trademarks, a bit long and a hair to “cute” with its humor, it by no means ruins the picture and is entirely forgivable given the fantastic quality of everything else at play. So if you are a fan of sci-fi, big budget spectacle, or one of our best directors firing on all cylinders, then Minority Report was one not to miss.