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Minority Report

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I was really looking forward to seeing Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise team up.   They both have very good track records.

The basic premise of the story is interesting.  Three prescient can see murders before they happen.  Only murders, because they're emotionally charged (what about rape?  What about people who become emotionally charged by almost any minor event?)   Crimes of passion apparently only show up a few minutes ahead of time, but others can be seen a week or more ahead.

The opening scene, that they showed in the previews, shows some of the contrived plot devices.  Things like, the murder's name is cut into a polished wooden ball.   "Because there's no way to duplicate the grain pattern."  Bleh.   How do you know which grain pattern was the original?  You have to record that somewhere, and that's where your security system falters.

They're able to read the precients' minds and display images on a computer.   Pretty fancy stuff.

The chase scenes tended to be overdone.  It's really hard to come up with Die Hard-type predicaments that a reasonably resourceful person can get out of without the writer having to resort to magic.  In one, a chase in an automated factory, a car is inadvertantly built around him in about four minutes.  Seemed a bit convenient.

Some of the sets were also overly complex.  For example, the contraption where the wooden balls come out is a series of clear plastic tubes that go through a convoluted set of twists and turns and finally ends up at the room where they use the computer to investigate.  That room over looks the pool that the prescients lie in.  Instead of three simple sensory deprivation tanks, it's a high ceiling room with a single round pool with the three people laying in it radially.

This movie also used the becoming-cliched futuristic suspended animation prison.   This, I never understood.  Sure, it removes criminals from society for the duration of their sentance, but it doesn't really punish them beyond the Rip Van Winkle aspect.  I dunno.  Maybe that does have some deterrent effect.

The production values of the movie were, of course, top notch.

And there was one minor theme that was very interesting to think about.  They envisioned ubiquitous retina scanners that worked at a distance of a few meters.  The authorities could use them to find and track wanted people whenever they used public facilities.  Also, retail stores would use those along with focused 3D sound (two people next to each other can hear different messages) to present targeted advertising as you walked by.  One wonders how long until some equivalent recognition technollgy really is deployed, and how it will affect society.

Other than that one tangential societal issue, I can't say I really enjoyed the movie all that much.  I was just slapped in the face with one verisimilitude problem after another.

On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Pay Per View.  The premise was interesting, but had some silly plot devices and contrived suspense scenes.


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Last modified: June 14, 2004
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