Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Water, Eyes and Mirrors

Ms. Spenser had never seen Minority Report (2002), but she had listened to the epic Filmsack podcast. So I queued it up.

Minority report is Steven Spielberg's take on a Philip K. Dick story. In the future, murder has been eliminated in Washington D.C. The Pre-Crime Unit arrests anyone who is going to commit murder in the future. Tom Cruise is a top pre-crime cop with a troubled past. His son was abducted and murdered before pre-crime was a thing. So he is very big behind this program - until the precogs forsee that he himself will commit a murder in a few days.

Of course, he runs. As the cop in the movie says, "They always run." That gives us a good action movie with Tom Cruise jumping from futuristic car to futuristic car, etc. It also shows him trying to blend into the crowd in a world of pervasive surveillance and advertising that recognizes you personally by your eyeball iris pattern. And yet, he has no problem getting away. I guess people hadn't really taken the whole surveillance state concept on board in 2002.

A couple of things:
  • This is a great looking movie. Aside from all the future tech (this movie probably popularized the idea of a gesture computer interface), there are some great visuals; scenes drenched in light with the highlights blown out in halos around Cruise. Reminded me a little bit of Kubrick, also reminded me that director Spielberg is a hell of a director.
  • I had forgotten how goofy this movie could be - there are several scenes of pure slapstick, and in some pretty weird places. I wonder if this was meant to be a Phildickian touch: He could be pretty silly.
  • The Filmsack podcast sort of focused on the question of the symbolism of water in this movie: Was it intentional, did it have a pay-off, was it even there? All I can say is, yes, water, mirrors and eyeballs, all repeated motifs. I can't say if the symbols pay off, but, as mentioned above, it looks great.
Note that I still don't think much of Tom Cruise as an actor. He must be really fun to work with or something, because he keeps getting great roles. But he gets some great backup here, like Colin Farrell (Total Recall reboot) as the fed investigating the Pre-Crime Division to see if it should be expanded nationally. Or Max von Sydow as the professorial head of Pre-Crime or Lois Smith as the woman who developed the process and now plays with mutant plant life. Samantha Morton's precog pulled into the world of now ("Is it now?") really sells it, too. She doesn't depend on seeing the future to get them out of too many jams, but when she does, it is very Dick, like, say, Paycheck

There's a lot of Dick in this movie, unlike, say, Bladerunner, or either Total Recall. Cruise is a bit of a druggie due to the loss of his son, and estranged from his wife - both common Dick themes. The whole predestination question is treated respectfully, so the philosophical theme is more or less left intact, even if Dick let it play out differently in the source story.

But I wouldn't recommend it because it is authentic Phil Dick. I recommend it because it's a good looking spectacle action film, with a creamy Philip K. Dick center. 

1 comment:

mr. schprock said...

One of my favorite movies. I think I'll watch it again soon. Also, I kind of admire Tom Cruise as an actor. I think he always delivers.