Spielberg Bombs Again: Minority Report

And I thought AI was a work of film making better left forgotten, with Minority Report, Steven Spielberg has sunk even lower into the realm of the Hollywood blockbuster. Whatever happened to the Steve Spielberg that made good movies, like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and that gem of pure suspense Jurassic Park?

The trivial, lackluster and formulaic story that Minority Report is, almost makes me want to tell readers: just skip this garbage, trust me it ain�t worth it. But, moviegoers ought to know why this film is no work of cinematic art.

Minority Report is a boring murder-mystery that I found hard to even care about who killed whom, or why they were killed. It is contrived to allow Tommy Cruise the chance to go running all over the place, dodging and intermittently fighting his pursuers. It's an excuse for gratuitous action violence and 10th grade story content. Which makes some sense, since it has got to be aimed at the high school audience. I mean, would any adult sit through this? Well, the answer here is a qualified yes, since I did. Though I made one trip to the bathroom at the very end, as Cruise in a voiceover attempts to wrap this comic book tale up for us. Once out of the theater, I thought oh just forget watching the ending of this thing and go home. Wise decision.

The film's premise wouldn't be so objectionable in itself, if the film didn�t purport to be a serious look at the near future (the next 50 years or so). If it didn�t try to tell us in its promo clips that it�s all about precognitive crime solving. If it didn�t in the first part of the story try to actually do some philosophizing about a concept that is spurious in the world of science anyway. But, hey look I�m not bothered by this conflict. What conflict you say? The fact that the Berg goes to extremes to portray a believable future, then inserts the most unbelievable idea of all into it: pre-cognitive persons and EVENTS! I didn't think even a registered imbecile believed in precognition. But as I said, this doesn�t irk me all that much, it�s the very uncreative story that unfolds. Peppered with chase scenes we all have seen, limited special effects and a whodunit plot line that seemed to be lifted from the pages of an Agatha Christie novel, how could anybody take it seriously? Three precognitive, nobodys float around a pool of water. These sleeping nitwits set the background from which the story's plot develops. Only one'em even has a speaking part, and her acting leaves everything to be desired!

The most egregious offense this film commits, however, has nothing to do with the film itself. What should make film lovers groan and shed tears is to see Sydow play the bad guy in this throw away flick. Max Von Sydow is a Swedish actor who has long been hailed as a master of the art. His portrayals of a beleaguered knight, a fallen magician, an enraged farmer, a conflicted painter and other characters under the direction of world-famous Swedish director Ingmar Bergman are unforgettable. Even his performance in the blockbuster film The Excorist, as the wise and experienced priest, Merrin, that guides a faith-troubled Father Karras through exorcism was the best part that travesty of Peter Blatty's best-selling novel. That this brilliant actor should have to come so far down the scale of cinematic excellence to play a villain in Minority Report is cause for mourning. Max I know, whatever keeps the house, Mercedes and pays those mounting bills, you gotta do right?

Ken Wais 7/22/02

Philosophies, Science, Math and Music