ntang (ntang) wrote,

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Minority Report

Just saw Minority Report for the first time (God bless DVD players).

I have to say, I liked it. It was very different in feel from many of Spielberg's prior movies, although it definitely had some of his touch to it. It also had a stupid ending, one that didn't satisfy me at all - it was too neat, too easy, and didn't really tackle the issues.

The movie, to ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it, is (last chance to turn away now) about a future where three pre-cogs (and from what they described it seems that there only are three) have been harnessed by law enforcement to stop crimes - before they happen. The would-be criminal is put into stasis, where they can't harm anyone. As the box says, the chief of the pre-crimes division (Tom Cruise) is fingered for a murder. That's when all hell breaks loose.

So we find out a few things, watching the movie. First off, the title, Minority Report, is named after the occasional discrepancy the system finds. Basically, sometimes, the third precog, Agatha, the most powerful of the three, sees events slightly differently than the other two. It's unusual, but it happens, and when it does it's deleted, but not before being archived in the precog's memory as a minority report. No one knows about them except the people who came up with the whole precrime division.

So, the system, even though it's prevented every single murder in DC in the past 5 years (the division's been around for 6 years, but it takes them a year to get up to speed), is imperfect. There's still room for error, even if it's slight.

The interesting thing, though, happens when we find out that someone that finds out their own future, by seeing a precog's vision, can actually alter it. They can choose whether or not to follow the course destiny has set, by changing at the last second.

There's a lot of deep moral (and other) implications to that whole line of thinking. The future can be changed by those who know it, which is why murders are prevented. However, the murderer themselves can be prevented from murdering if they know about their own future - so rather than incarcerate all of them, you could theoretically show them in time and give them the choice. Of course, just interrupting the act before it happens would have probably stopped the crimes, especially since a decent number of them are crimes of passion.

In the end, though, the movie ends with Tom Cruise winning, the bad guy losing, and the pre-crimes division being shut down (since it's been proved that it can be wrong, and I guess the concept is that preventing murder from ever taking place still isn't worth locking up innocent people).

I'd agree with that, but I'd also say that maybe the answer isn't to dismantle it, but to modify it. What if people weren't arrested and thrown in jail, but simply stopped? Shown their future, even? What if some method was found of confronting the person and showing them the error of their ways without dooming them to a half-life in stasis?

During the course of the movie, premeditated murders have all but ended, as everyone realizes that they'll be caught and stopped. Of course, it seems like if that's true, and if the only ones left are crimes of passion, that it would be easy to give people their freedom while still stopping the crimes. Interrupt the crimes of passion before it occurs, which will give the person a chance to calm down. Stop the premeditated murders ahead of time, show them their future, and then see what happens. Hell, release 'em - if they're determined to kill the person, they'll get picked up again, in which case you could have a 2 (or 3, or whatever) strikes and you're out rule (I'd think 2 would be sufficient). For many people, I imagine the shock of being caught before even committing the crime would send them down the straight and narrow, and if they happen to be guilty of any other crimes that they could be arrested for (illegal possession of a weapon, or drug use, or whatever) then you can bring them in for that. You could even monitor the person for a certain amount of time to make sure they don't get away somehow. The point is, there are ways it could be dealt with, at least possibly.

Anyways, back to the movie. A fed, Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell), is investigating the pre-crimes unit prior to it going public. John Anderton (Tom Cruise), the head of the pre-crimes division, starts looking around to make sure there's nothing to find, but starts finding some odd ends which concern him. A short while later, he sees the future of himself killing a man. He goes on the run, using his skills, his knowledge, and a little luck to stay ahead of his own men, where the future actually leads him to confront the man he was supposed to kill - who he realizes, from the photos on the bed, is the man who kidnapped and killed his son (who was never found) years ago.

Well, knowing his future, he is able to restrain himself (at the last second, nothing like a little suspense to tug at the heart-strings) and reads the guy his rights instead of killing him. He finds out it was all a set-up, and that the guy didn't really kidnap his son - the photos were doctored - but was told to be there, put those photos out, and if he was killed his family would be taken care of.

At this point it's obvious to everyone, even the star of the movie, that something's fishy. The guy grabs Anderton's gun and shoots himself, fulfilling the destiny although in a very different manner, of course. Anderton drops the gun and runs.

Interestingly enough, the fed, Witwer, figures out what happened, or close enough to it, with almost nothing to go on. It felt more than a little contrived, but the point Spielberg was trying to get across, I think, is that Witwer was actually even more capable a cop (in some ways) than the pre-crime guys, as he had experience on actual murder scenes, having worked in homicide, and knew what to look for. It was too easy and clean-cut, he said, so there was a set up.

Anyways, more stuff happens, but in the end Tom Cruise pulls through it all and succeeds. I really found that bothersome, as he shouldn't have. Just like Witwer's solving the case (or at least cutting through the bullshit) felt much too easy, so did Anderton's victory. Hell, the entire movie felt like he was being guided through it, and not in a good way - not in the "being manipulated by outside forces" sense, but in the "he needs to figure this out and for these things to happen for the movie to work" sense. Too many things were pat and easy, too many things "just worked out", if you know what I mean.

Despite that, though, I still enjoyed the movie. It had enough twists that I was rarely far ahead of the movie, and enough interesting action and visuals that it was fun just relaxing and going along for the ride. The entire movie was very dark, gritty, and monochromatic - but perhaps a bit too much. Spielberg was obviously trying to break out of his normal mold, and he succeeded, to an extent. He also didn't totally fuck this one up, like he did with A.I. (which ended up being a pretty terrible movie, in the end, despite some redeeming qualities). It was an interesting watch, and I enjoyed it.

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