director Steven Spielberg
At the dawn of the 21st century (sounds silly to say such a thing, don’t it?), Steven Spielberg belted out three science fiction films in relatively quick succession: A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Minority Report (2002), and then War of the Worlds (2005). For me, these three films reawoken my interest in Spielberg, tainted prior perhaps by film school cynicism. Heck, two of the three starred Tom Cruise, at the time one of my least favorite major movie stars…and I still liked the films.
Minority Report might be the weakest link in the chain of films, and yet, it’s still really quite interesting and in ways quite provocative. Interestingly, the reason for its continued influence in thought and concept has a lot more to do with the production concept and design that looked to realistically predict human technologies of the future and other crazy things that extending technology would infect the world, particularly in regard to privacy and advertising.
The film’s biggest weakness is in its visual aesthetic. Shot by Janusz Kamiński (Spielberg’s #1 go-to cinematographer), the team employed a combination of “bleach-bypassing” the film’s negative and a de-saturation of the color in the film, giving it this bright, “washed-out” look, meant to echo of film noir and black-and-white, but ending up looking like some very cheesy and artificial aesthetic. This, like everything here, is my opinion, but to my mind this hasn’t aged well at all. In ways, it really imposes itself throughout the film and wears deeply.
Taking Philip K. Dick to the big screen has always been a mixed-blessing, though as much bastardization goes into the ideas and stories, the resultant films still often end up being at least very interesting. I don’t know if Spielberg was shooting for something like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) or maybe was shooting for something distinctly different from that film’s art direction, but there is a reason everyone still talks about the Scott film’s design,…and probably not Minority Report.
It’s a pretty good movie. It’s interesting how much of it stayed with me in ways in the 14 years since I saw it. Samantha Morton is compelling as Agatha, the pre-cog slave to the pre-crime system.
Interestingly, or perhaps not so, there is now a Minority Report show on TV from Fox. I watched most of the first episode after re-watching this movie. It’s absolutely horrible.