Movie Review

MINORITY REPORT

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, brief language, some sexuality and drug content

Reviewed by: Michael Karounos
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Action / Sci-fi
Length:
2 hr. 15 min.

Starring: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Peter Stormare, Max von Sydow | Directed by: Steven Spielberg | Produced by: Gerald R. Molen, Bonnie Curtis, Walter F Parkes, Jan Bont | Written by: Jon Cohen, Scott Frank, John Cohen | Distributor: 20th Century Fox

“Minority Report” is clearly Spielberg’s best, most thoughtful picture since “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” Based on a short story by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, it is set in the Washington, D.C. of 2054 where for the past six years the police have been able to prevent murders through the use of a trio of “pre-cogs”: pre-cognitive people who receive visions of future murders. The three, a woman and two men, are kept in a clover-leaf shaped pod filled with water and are tended by a somewhat neurotic technician whose sole qualification for the job seems to be that he is very nurturing. The pre-cogs fragmentary visions of future crimes are displayed onto computer screens and downloaded into the department’s crime computer for analysis.

Tom Cruise in “Minority Report”John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is the captain of the pre-cog unit, and it is he who manipulates the images through the not entirely convincing method of “conducting” the images on glass displays with cyber-gloves. Elements of doubt and interpretation are part of the process because accurate conclusions are dependent on the skill of the officer analyzing the “evidence,” and also because the visions can have a “dissenting” component of only two pre-cogs predicting the same future, with the third filing a “minority report.”

Anderton joined the force six years before, motivated by the unsolved kidnapping of his young son, and struggles with feelings of guilt, revenge and hatred. He has been separated from his wife for six months (can so many sixes be coincidental?) and has become addicted to the drug “Clarity” for relief from his inner demons. In other words, he has sufficient “character motivation” for us to believe that he believes in what he is doing. Whether he will continue to “believe” is one of the questions the movie will raise.

“Minority Report” is a visual delight, but to this point it lacks a compelling catalyst to drive the narrative. The catalyst arrives in the form of Colin Farrell, a Brad Pitt look-alike who steals nearly every scene as Detective Ed Witwer, a Justice Department official suspicious of the pre-cog operation and who aggressively investigates it to test its fitness for nation-wide application. Even in his scenes with the charismatic Cruise, Farrell comes off as a strong foil and I think it has to do with his body language. Cruise stands or stares in conventional fashion in their confrontations, but Farrel slumps, looks sidelong, glances from beneath his eyebrows and adopts similar tropes in a manner that is convincing and highly personal. His is a discordant personality, dressed in a dark suit, scruffy-looking, like a Type-A Columbo who, ironically, is determined to find something wrong where nothing yet wrong exists, much like the work of the pre-cog unit itself.

The film’s visual constructions of the future are for the most part convincing and far superior in integration to laughable efforts such as that seen in the recent “Star Wars” offering. But in the best of films, it is character not action that drives a viewer’s interest, and the movie rides the successful chemistry of the antagonism between Cruise and Farrell’s characters.

Max Von Sydow in “Minority Report”Philosophically, the movie will intrigue both Christians and non-Christians for its presentation of the free will vs. determinism debate (which will always be with us), whose resolution (not coincidentally, I think) depends on the identical arguments used to argue both sides of the current capital punishment controversy.

Politically, the movie can easily be read as coming heavily down on one side of that argument and it does so by venturing into surprising, theological grounds. The area where the pre-cogs are kept is referred to as “The Temple”; the police officers are called “priests” and “clergy”; the punishment chamber for the future murderers is called a kind of “hell”; and the “handcuffs” are an immobilizing headset which is referred to as a “halo.” Moreover, there are three pre-cogs (constituting a kind of trinity) and the warden of the “death penalty” wing is called Gideon. Make of the last what you can. In the composition of these elements, the movie is clearly making a value judgment of epistemological systems and their believers. As a Christian, I conclude that it is not, shall we say, sympathetic to Christianity in its metaphysical or temporal forms, but viewers should decide for themselves.

Interestingly, it is the female, Agatha, that is the most accurate of the three pre-cogs, and whether it is coincidence or not, her name means “good” in Greek. Much like the character of Trinity breathes new life to Neo in “The Matrix”, it is she who guides Anderton to his spiritual awakening and recovery. Similarly, the characters of Morpheus and Neo in “The Matrix” are interchangeable, just as the male twins are interchangeable in “Minority Report”, predictably casting the woman as the nurturing, life-giving force. Furthermore, the pre-cogs were “created” by the chief-of-police (Max von Sydow) and a woman scientist. Archtypers en guard.

While containing the inevitable Spielberg sentimentality, the film’s conclusion argues for forgiveness over revenge, for mercy over justice, and for free will over determinism without being lugubrious. Literally and metaphorically, the film makes the argument that new eyes make for a new perspective and is a clever polemic which will both entertain and provoke the viewer to think about metaphysical, philosophical, and political issues which have been and always will be important to our culture and to our faith.

In his lesser films, Spielberg often took the opportunity of making sly digs at Christianity and it will be interesting to see if after the welcome hiatus of Schindler’s List and “Saving Private Ryan”, in which Christianity was portrayed with some complexity and even sympathy, whether “Minority Report” augurs a return for him to the culture wars of our time. “A.I.” was a two-headed abomination as both art and political polemic but with “Minority Report” he has a classic sci-fi hit that successfully crafts a powerful argument about contemporary issues.

Year of Release—2002

Viewer Comments
Neutral—I went to see Minority Report last night. I usually do not get scared from movies (especially action flicks like this one,) but I was disturbed somewhat. The acting and special effects were great, but there were a few things that frightened me. The scene where Tom Cruise is getting his eyes lenses changed was unpleasant to sit through I thought. The way they almost glorified the pre-cogs and referred to their room as a “temple” was not right I didn’t think. Overall, the suspense and plot were alright, but I thought the direstor could have done a better job.
My Ratings: [Somewhat Offensive / 3½]
—Allison, age 14
Positive—I saw Minority Report last night and I found it to be a good movie. It was full of action as well as thought provoking. I did find the idea of the “Pre-cogs” a little dumb. How is it that these humans, because they are human, are able to see into the future. They were in a way idolized. There was a scene between the detective Whitworth, I believe his name was and Tom Cruise where he explains that he is looking for a mistake because it was humanmade. We come to learn that it is fallible because it was made by humans therefore it cannot be perfect. That was a good point but I don’t know if too many people got that. I would recommend this movie but with some reservations.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Rebeca Esqueda, age 21
Negative—Well, Speilberg definitely put a lot of work into this film, as he usually does. The story was incredible, and the acting was superb, but there was just too much extra garbage thrown into the story. The murders in the movie were being replayed over and over again. And even though some people could possibly justify that that was just a part of the story, there’s absolutely no way anyone can justify the sensuality during the spider scene. That was totally unnecessary. The adulterous scene at the very beginning didn’t need to be shown as much as it did either. Yes, I know the sensuous scenes are short, but the fact is, they are still there. People will disagree with me on this, but if you are a committed Christian, you will have to lower your standards if you want to see this movie. For anyone who reads this please believe me, it’s not worth compromising!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
—Adam Rook, age 19
Negative—The movie was a shocker. Probably because it depicts a world with little hope in the area of crime and punishment. Although Special effects were good, I would not take anyone younger than 16yrs old. Crime scenes are brutally realistic, and drenched with fear. No sense instilling anymore fear in kids, even less when science fiction and our favorite action heroes are involved. I must admit that Tom C. did a remarkable job of acting in this movie, probably the best yet. The excitement of the movie wore off in about an hour into the movie. Scenes became very predictable, nevertheless still captivating. Pain is graphic and extremely realistic. Toms sense of family and love, however, dies out near the end of the movie, as he just about beats a man to death. The moral of this story is our capability to make the right choice, which is made clear through out most of the movie. Overall, I would say that the movie is too strong for teens, and perhaps for some adults like me.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Peter Go, age 36
Positive—Let me start by saying this is the best sci-fi/action thriller since The Matrix. Unlike the other summer movies this year you have to actually bring your brain into room. Every action scene is well done and keeps you on the edge of your seat. At times during the movie I felt the uncontrollable urge not to blink or I might miss something important. Due to the adult situations and violence this movie is not for kids. There is no nudity and the violence I thought was well done. Language is mild except the one “f” word and that was said in anger towards someone bad. Very much to my surprise there is not a single “g-d” in the whole film. As for Tom Cruise I forgive him for Vanilla Sky and Eyes Wide Shut even though I did not see either of them. He is still the king of action movies (Mission Impossible:2, Top Gun). Maybe he will get the hint, do more action movies and less psychological pieces of cra… junk films. All in all Minority Report is a masterpiece of a movie and is well worth the price of admission.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Big “G”, age 21
Positive—I think the movie is far more sympathetic to Christianity than the reviewer does. The investigator from the Justice Department says, after all, that he attended Fuller Theological Seminary. Moreover, he argues that, however “perfect” pre-crime may appear, it will in the end contain flaws because human beings are running it. To me, the religious overtones of pre-crime are not an attack on Christianity but rather on human attempts to play God. The point of the movie seems to be that we should let God be God, since sinful human beings will corrupt any power they possess.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—James, age 25
Negative—I thought this movie was going to be a high intensity with a good moral story—wrong! It was so dark… my hubby and I left the movie feeling bummed. It was a highly improbable scenario—I mean, come on, little red balls that are the substance of visions of 3 “highly gifted” individuals who see murders before they happen? The special effects and acting were great but the story left me wanting. It seemed the ending was thrown together to somehow bring everything to a positive outcome but it wasn’t very happy or satisfying. From a Christian point of view, why would someone who knows the truth of the Bible enjoy such a dark view of the future? I can’t imagine why this movie would rate as entertaining other than the FX and acting. I’m not a Tom Cruise fan but his acting was good, but the script was over the top. I mean, people can get over a terrible tragedy like a child’s death w/o drugs and divorce. I would not recommend this movie.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
—Terri, age 40
Negative—Minority report has a somewhat predictable plot and suspense. The major problem with this film is the glorification of divination. God’s Word says DO NOT DO IT. The basic message is that divination is good but humans can’t use it. This is the only positive quality of the film.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4½]
—Bob Clark, age 38

This movie had some great special effects. The story was very good, but there were some disturbing scenes, such as the sex scenes, but they (there are 2 very brief ones) are not made to look good, and the camera does not linger on them. Tom Cruise does a very good job, as do all the actors. There is some bad language, and violence, but mostly this is a very good action movie. It was worth paying to see it, but beware… there are some intense scenes. I would recommend not taking children who are under age 13 to see this movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Joe, age 14

Positive—This Steven Spielberg offering is an amazing piece of work. The story and characters are engaging and the lavish futureworld effects (such as cars autopiloting sideways on a vertical freeway) are visually stunning… Interesting issues raised by this scenario are: Is precognition real? If you change the future, are there alternate futures? If the perpetrator didn’t actually commit the crime, can he be punished for what he only intended to do? And is the system truly infallible… how do we know, since the murders are prevented? The answer to most of these and other questions asked by the plot is: these things rightly belong only to God. However, we see some of the preCrime unit staff assigning godlike or at least priestlike status to themselves… The meaning of the film’s cryptic title is revealed late, in a plot twist that partially deflates the preCrime unit’s overblown image of itself. This film can be—and is being—seen as Biblical allegory; however, the material as presented puts man and/or natural forces in the place of God. I recommend the film for mature Sci-fi fans only.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4½]
Brett Willis, age 51
Positive—As close to a perfect film as I’ve seen in years. The movie has plot, action, intrigue, characters—everything Hollywood tries so desperately, and usually, unsuccessfully, to master. Spielberg will certain win an Oscar for his superb direction of this film. If you only see ONE movie this summer, this should be the one.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Ron Reames, age 55
Neutral—This was an incredible movie—there’s no doubt about that. But even with the amazing plot, stunning visual effects, and convincing actors, this movie left me haunted by images at night when I’m trying to sleep. I was surprised at the PG-13 rating of this movie. Although there is not a lot of explicit violence, there is a great deal of violent and haunting images that are imprinted in your mind. If you were bothered by movies like “The Sixth Sense” that had a lot of dark, death-related images, then please DO NOT see this movie. I thought it was great, but very much wish I had not seen it. Please be careful and make sure you can handle it before going to see it.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 5]
—Katy Carnohan, age 20
Negative—The biggest concern that I have about Minority Report is how they do “precrime” investigation. The pre-cogs (pre-cogniscents) were children of drugs addicts, that received a “gift” as a result of the drugs (Neuroin) effect on them. The “gift” is having to live the horror of murder before it happens. But the one line that got me was “It is best that you do not think of them as human” The three pre-cogs are kept sedated to the point of barely thinking and plugged in a computer so they pre-crime people can watch their thoughts. They are nothing more than a “psychic” antenna. The other thing that bothers me is that their “gift” reminds me of fortune telling. Some my argue that it is prophetic. You have to choose for yourself. But the way they are treated, either as “not human” or “god-like” is not good.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Adam Greene, age 26
Positive—This was one of Spielbergs finest movies. This movie not only made you think about the choices you make in life but it had a lot of action and suspense in it as well. A must see for any movie buff.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—John Traylor, age 36
Positive—Historically speaking, I’m not a huge fan of sci-fi, futuristic, or Tom Cruise movies but this is an exception. I’m not a film critic in regard to cinematography, directing, etc, but I do know when I am being entertained and not repulsed at the same time. There’s no denying there are some objectionable scenes (brief sex, drug use, profanity and violence) but for myself who is usually greatly offended by these elements (I walked out of “Windtalkers”), I was able to walk away without being offended. I would not think it appropriate at all for children under 13. They do not need to be exposed to this sort of movie at a young age despite what my friends (as single parents) say. It really is an interesting, exciting, on-the-edge sort of film.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Tamara, age 38
Positive—I really liked this picture. In a summer when the visual effects in movies are looking more and more like screen savers, “Minority Report” offers brilliant, eye-popping, seamless effects. I thought the cinematography really boosted this movie. Spielberg and his cinematographer found just the right tone, in between the film-noir and action genres. The film had amazing well crafted action sequences that weren’t just a retread of every other action movie, and also found a very seedy feel in many scenes. And, oddly enough, it was the seedy, noir-like scenes that I loved the most. The scenes in the old apartment complex, the jog in the middle of the night. And, all-throughout, Spielberg perfectly combined the elements of the present with the films future. As well, the acting was great. Tom Cruise is an actor who, instead of relying on his good looks, searches for good parts. Consider his characters in some of the pictures: “Minority report,” “Magnolia”, “Vanilla Sky,” “Mission Impossible,” “Eyes Wide Shut.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Jason Eaken, age 18
Positive—This is an outstanding film, a triumph. Steven Spielberg manages, once again, to create a film that works on both our minds and our emotions. This movie is both a thriller and a human story. It is a film of ideas that is also a terrific whodunit story. This is Tom Cruise’s first foray into the science fiction/futuristic domain and he is excellent, as is Max von Sydow. There are some adult situations and some bad language, but there are also highly positive moral elements. The set design is incredible and the effects look real, not computer generated. This is one of the best films to come out this year if not within the past several years.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Allen, age 41
Positive—“Minority Report” is so imaginative. Definitely sci-fi to the max. Tom Cruise plays john… a pre crime stopper. but when he realizes he is gonna be murdering someone; look out. There’s action, mystery drama comedy everything in this movie. But again, I have to say FOR MATURE movie goers. The makers of this movie have to stick in people using our Lord Jesus’ name in vain. We have to watch spiders going over a room with sex going on. We have to see a man imagining he’s having sex. Get the point. This could be best movie of a long time, but I wouldn’t take my kids to see this. I did enjoy this movie—thumbs up. morality test. thumbs down. Run Tom Cruise. run they are after you.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4½]
—ROCKINRON, age 39
Positive—A flat out masterpiece!! It has many thematic elements that are food for thought for Christians, and none of the negative elements (mild sex, drugs) are endorsed or glamorized. In fact, the opposite is true. Every frame is infused with Spielberg’s bigger-than-Texas imagination and his remarkable ability to commit those endlessly inventive images to film. Wonderful! A refreshing, intelligent, exciting thriller for grown-ups in the middle of an otherwise horrible summer movie season. This is what happens when talented, incredibly creative people are cooking on all four burners.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Brett Simpson, age 37
Positive—Going into the theatre to see Minority Report on opening night I was expecting to see one of this summer box office sensations. After the first ten minutes, though, I was a little afraid that this wasn’t going to be the movie I hoped to see. The first scene in the movie shows a woman with her adulterous lover, and is then followed up by scenes of her husband stabbing both of them to death with a pair of scissors. At this point I was very afraid that I wasn’t in for a box officers thriller but instead a moral disaster. Instead though I was pleasantly surprised, barring a clip, from the back, of a virtual half naked women and 1 F-word, it was a great thriller. It turned out to be a very clever movie that kept me on my toes through out. So if you are looking for a great thriller, and can handle the first ten minutes (look on the bright side, it’s the first ten minutes so if you are running late you aren’t missing much of anything), I would recommend checking this flick.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Peter Brands, age 18
Movie Critics
…Despite some very problematic, adult moments, MINORITY REPORT is an intense, exciting science fiction thriller for mature audiences, with a moral point of view and strong Christian allegorical elements…
—Dr. Ted Baehr and Dr. Tom Snyder, Movieguide
…Some sexually related dialogue is present, a married woman is briefly seen fooling around with her adulterous lover, another couple is partially seen having sex, and a man experiences a virtual reality encounter with a scantily clad woman…
—ScreenIt!
…1 F-word, 5 sexual references, 6 scatological term, 1 anatomical terms, 12 mild obscenities, 9 religious exclamations…
—Kids-in-Mind
…splendidly gritty, visually dazzling… I have quibbles here and there, mostly with the final outcome, but the movie’s charms overwhelm any shortcomings…
—Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic
…I found myself wanting more when the credits rolled; it was that good and that interesting…
—Holly McClure, Crosswalk.com
Comments from young people
Positive—I went and saw this movie with a bunch of my friends and we all thought it was GREAT! It had an awesome story line that kept you on the edge of your seat the whole time. It was not boring at all. There is not that much swearing in it but there is quite a bit of violence! I wouldn’t recommend it to little kids but to teens and older it is good.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Andrea, age 17
Positive—I really, really did like this movie… except for one part. There is one brief—but extremely graphic—sex scene. You see a women and a man going at it pretty strong and you hear graphic, sexual/sensual screams. But, other than that and the brief language this movie was awesome!
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Anna, age 10
Positive—I do not consider myself a big fan of Mr. Cruise’s, no offense, but I was really impressed at the calibre of his performance in this magnificent piece of art. The director composed his stars in a way that brought me close to tears, the movie was that good. Some objectionable elements, but nothing that children could not handle. Totally worth the money, so go see it and be astounded that movies CAN come from Hollywood with objectionable elements and still leave you feeling good that you went to go see it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Ray Lackey, age 17
Positive—Wow. Anyone who doubts that Steven Spielberg is a master of film will have a hard time doubting him after they see this movie. It not only impresses on a technical and visual level (like all of Spielberg’s movies), but it also scores several hits that go pretty deep and will leave you pondering and almost fearing the kind of future depicted in the movie. Tom Cruise is good as the man trying to clear his name after the pre-Cogs, semi-catatonic humans who can see murders before they happen, see him murdering a man he has never met and has, he thinks, no reason or intention to kill. Colin Farrell is excellent as the man chasing him and looking for flaws in the Pre-Crime system, and gives a performance that just might net him a few awards. Be warned, though, the movie is a very strong PG-13 (I thought it should have been rated R… aside from the content, the subject matter of the movie is very mature, ranging from murder to child abduction and molestation to drug addiction, etc.), and you most definitely should not take anyone under 13 to see it. Even then, you might want to think twice about your average 13-year old viewing this one and make sure to talk about it with them afterwards; if nothing else, they might miss the point of the movie. The content includes language (1 F word, various other profanities), strong violence (including seeing the murders that the pre-Cogs see, sometimes several times—blood, screams, etc.), some sexual situations (a woman’s husband walking in on her and her lover, a couple having sex in their apartment, etc.), and drug use (Cruise’s character uses dope to help deal with the pain of his lost son). Regardless of the adult content, however, you should still see this movie… it is too powerful and has too great of an impact to miss. (Note: This movie is based on a story by Phillip K. Dick, who also wrote the stories that became “Blade Runner” and “Total Recall”)
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 5]
—Peter Jurmu, age 16