Why I hated Minority Report

Otherwise-sane people keep saying that they liked Minority Report, so I feel compelled to make a list of the reasons I hated it. There are spoilers here, so I'll <lj-cut> it, even though my day was spoiled by this movie.

<lj-cut text="...rant on...">

First, the things about it that I thought were ok:

  • The notion of a heavily-observed society, where everyone is monitored every time they go out in public (and sometimes private) was interesting, and there were some cool (and creepy) ideas attached to that, like personalized billboards and the talking cereal box.

  • I liked the character of the doctor in the greenhouse. She was the only interesting character, for all of the two minutes she was in the movie.

  • The cars were kind of neat.

What I hated:

  • How many times did they have to wave in our face that the cars were LEXUS?

  • The chase scene happening to end in the LEXUS factory was really stupid. How easy do you think it would be to wander in to an operating factory, in the downtown of a major city? It seems to happen all the time in Hollywood!

  • They have retina scanners everywhere, but the unprotected conveyor belt doesn't have any motion sensors to shut down when there's something in the way that shouldn't be?

  • Wait, did I say "chase sequence on a conveyor belt"? Yes, I did. Wasn't I told that this was a serious exploration of privacy and determinism, and suddenly we're in a Tom and Jerry cartoon?

  • They assemble the car around him (I am so sure), and then just drop the car off at the exit of the factory, ready to drive away? Rather than automatically stacking the cars into a shipping container? Did they assemble every car around its own driver, because they all seem to have driven away by the time he exits the amusement park ride, excuse me, the factory. Please keep your hands inside the LEXUS until it is fully assembled, exit to your right.

  • Plucked eyeballs bounce. Not only do they bounce, they round corners and roll really well, despite the sticky goo and inch long piece of optic nerve sticking out the back. Sorry, did I say Tom and Jerry earlier? I meant Itchy and Scratchy.

    That scene would have seemed hackneyed and forced even in a crap-fest like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. (I loved the other Indy movies, but that one sucked and you know it.)

  • The rotting sandwich gag was just stupid, insulting, unbelievable, and completely out of place. Does having your eyes removed also remove your sense of smell, and sense of touch from your fingers?

    It's as if you were watching North by Northwest and suddenly there was a guest appearance by the Three Stooges. You know, just to ``lighten things up.''

  • What was with the wooden balls, besides being a clumsy ``lottery'' gag?

  • Let me get this straight: they've got a society that retina scans you every time you enter a public building, even a store. Their network is to tightly centralized that the cops have the ability, on a moment's notice, to have these millions of cameras report back when they see a particular suspect. AND YET, they can't tell the system to, I don't know, stop opening doors for this person? Let him into an elevator but don't let him out?

  • Nobody, not even homicide cops, are lowjacked?

  • Even with all this central control, it never occurred to them, in all the years this system has existed, that it might be a good idea to cancel the security clearance of someone wanted for murder, instead of letting him walk into what appears to be the most tightly controlled room in the whole city? Dude: change the fucking locks.

  • And even though they have retina scanning down cold, we're to believe that it's still possible to sanitize a gun by giving it a quick wipe with a hanky. Because, you know, they wouldn't have any kind of DNA-profiling ability that could sniff out stray flecks of skin. That would be like science fiction or something.

  • We are then told that, off-camera, the killer managed to move the body and make it appear that the murder had taken place elsewhere. This would of course be easy, because, as the second murder that took place in the city in nine years, they're just not going to be paying very close attention to the crime scene. Surely they won't bother to notice notice any trivial details like, say, the puddle of blood being missing.

    (In case you missed that idiotic moment in the movie -- they glossed over it really quickly -- just after Max von Sydow shoots the Fed in Sydow's office, someone exposits that Cruise just killed the Fed in his home.)

  • Cruise's ex-wife left him, and (we are told) moved out of their apartment in the city to a house in the country to get away from the memory of their dead son. And yet, she decorates a whole room in that house with her dead son's things, even to the extent of having a rusty tricycle sitting on the lawn outside.

  • And, as the capping insult, we are expected to believe that after these apparently-mostly-autistic psychics, who have spent at least the last (what did they say?) nine years of their lives, and very likely their entire lives before that, living on their backs in a vat of milk watching people die, really all they needed to live happily ever after was to sip herbal tea in a cottage in the woods? Oh, was it herbal tea? Or was it a commercial for General Foods International Coffees?

Everything that was good about Minority Report -- which was the approximately ten minutes of the movie they (obliquely) devoted to the details about how invasive the government was -- was handled better in Gattaca.

Everything else about Minority Report was complete crap, and Spielberg is a pandering, ham-handed clod.

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13 Responses:

  1. bertho says:

    Heh, yeah, there was a lot of stuff that just didn't fit, but the only thing that really bugged me was that they didn't block his access. Once I ignored that, it was a decent movie. And yes, the cars were damn cool. :)

  2. anonymous says:

    Sounds like you had no desire to enjoy the movie going into it. One of the first things I wondered when they were using the Plexiglas to transfer data was why they didn't have wireless yet. Why pick apart something as trivial as a movie, which is only to entertain? If you looked for inconsistency in a movie, how much do you pick apart relationships?

    • Held me when I cried, despite backhanded insult last month that she doesn't like emotional males and never to cry around her. Am I expected to believe her preferences are different because of my mood?

    Anyway, my point is the only reason I'm able to enjoy life is by constantly overlooking inconsistencies and anomalies in others' behavior and actions and deluding myself into creating emotional attachments, placing sentimental value on objects, etc. If you don't tolerate inconsistency in entertainment, where do you tolerate it?

  3. hepkitten says:

    Everything you said bothered me too. Except the wood thing, that was from the original story, but was of course, handled much better there.

    People keep telling me the same thing "why couldn't you have just sat and enjoyed it" and I tell them "I tried, but every two minutes something new popped up that made me go 'WTF?!'".

    Here is more:

    • The retinal scanners can't tell the difference between and eye that is alive and an eye that is dead? They haven't thought of this?
    • When does the line between premeditated and not get crossed? Sure he spent every day thinking of what he would do to that man, but when he suddenly finds out who it is, how does all that feeling transfer? And since he didn't know who it was to begin with, how could it have been premeditated at that point?
    • why does he not get blinded in one eye?
    • What the hell is with that hunched over on Tom Cruise running thing that the Pre-cog girl does? I mean, you either know how to run, or you need to be carried. In case 1, she at some point knew how to run, can't she like, figure out that you might want to be upright to do so? In case two, wouldn't she not be able to figure it out at all? It takes babies a year or two to learn to *walk* let alone run. And wouldn't her muscles have atrophied?

    There was alot more, but I will spare you the details.

  4. anthologie says:

    Not that this helps, but...

    "(In case you missed that idiotic moment in the movie -- they glossed over it really quickly -- just after Max von Sydow shoots the Fed in Sydow's office, someone exposits that Cruise just killed the Fed in his home.) "

    Actually, the whole scene happened in Anderton's home -- or was supposed to have. When the von Sydow character calls up the fed, he says, explicitly, "meet me at Anderton's," and in the next scene they have the conversation where he shoots the guy.

    "Cruise's ex-wife left him, and (we are told) moved out of their apartment in the city to a house in the country to get away from the memory of their dead son. And yet, she decorates a whole room in that house with her dead son's things."

    I got the impression that that house was like a summer home. There were a number of memories and photographs to show that the whole family -- mother, father and son -- had spent considerable time there before the son was kidnapped. It'd make sense for the house to have his toys around (and weren't they, aside from the bicycle, put in a closet? I am pretty sure Agatha opened a closet door and found the toys on the top shelf).

    I agreed with some of the other things you mentioned, including the bit about the chase scene in the factory, the fact that they didn't lock Anderton out of the Pre-Crime building, and especially the bit at the end where the psychics were okay in that house out in the middle of nowhere. I am willing to believe that being placed outside the city WOULD have a positive effect, IF we were told that one of the things that makes their precognition so accurate is proximity to 1) lots of people and hence 2) lots of potential crimes. But they should have gone into a lot more depth about how it works. And yes, you don't recover from that much psychic battery just by going off to the woods. Not that retreat doesn't help.

    • waider says:

      There was some oblique reference to it being a proximity thing. When the "premeditated" balls show up in the machine, someone says, "I'm surprised anyone within a 200-mile radius is that stupid" or words to that effect, implying that the precogs only cover a certain area.

      The not-attached-to-the-road LLLLLLEXUS cars reminded me of the bikes in Tron. I wonder if this was intentional?

      Things that bothered me, though:

      • the in-your-face product placement. Sure, this is supposed to be the way of the future, but, enh, an advert is an advert, regardless of whether it's in the storyline or not. And I'm sure you'll buy that for a dollar.
      • Dr. Solomon. He had good reason to kill or maim Anderton. Yet, as best I could follow, he had some sort of change of heart while in prison. Maybe this was supposed to be another subtle message: prison reforms people. prison is good. get in line and shut up.
      • The movie felt like it should have been over when Cruise didn't murder the guy he was supposed to shoot. You are in control of your destiny, hurrah, now take your Gap-clothed ass home in your Lexus and have a few Guinness. Sure, that would leave assorted loose ends hanging, but the pacing of things made it feel like that was the conclusion. And let's face it, loose ends aren't exactly rare in the movies.
      • Tom Cruise really only has one "Gadzooks! I've been doublecrossed again!" face, doesn't he?
      • Uncalled-for slapstick.
      • Getting built into the car. That was just plain dumb. Especially the last shot of Anderton before they cut to the external "is-he-dead-or-alive" bit (of course he is, morons, we've got plenty more film to go). Where his head is right where the seat's going to be bolted. Let me guess, he curled into a foetal ball in the footwell, then scooched himself up onto the seat, but crouched over so he wouldn't be seen from outside? Puh-leeez.

      Things I liked:

      • The (free-roaming) cars. Very nice. The elevator-style cars were pretty sucky.
      • The assorted computer stuff; in particular, the power-glove video-editing suite. Aside from the fact that it would be pretty much useless for a coder, I thought it would be a damn tidy interface to have. Well, also aside from the inevitable Gorilla Arms.
      • The shockwave guns. Although if it's strong enough to blow you back like that, chances are it's not doing much for your eardrums, either.

      On the whole, it wasn't a bad way to pass a quiet Sunday afternoon when I should have been doing more productive things.

  5. rustmuse says:

    I didn't like the cars...

  6. well,
    lets see here .. ok i'm bored so i'm going to every live journal i know about and "leaving my mark" ... then i'm going to every one of they're freinds livejournal's and "droping my scent" so if you are a victum ....feel free to come by my live journal and say hello

  7. darwinx0r says:

    just a small point :

    In the short story, the precrime suspects come up on.. "common punchcards."

    The short story was written in 1954.

    http://www.philipkdick.com

    =darwinx0r

  8. kalischild says:

    Actually, I have to disagree with you. The cars sucked too.

    INRI

    P.S. Good point about the tricycle, We didn't think anyone would catch that.

    P.P.S. Isn't ham-handed clod a rather extreme label for a man who's demonstrated his subtle heartstring-plucking skills and lack of emotional bias in films such as Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan? You're just jealous 'cause he gets more hits on Google.

  9. fiend says:

    Dude, if I'm paying $9.50 to watch a Hollywood movie with Tom Cruise in it, I expect all these sillyness, plot flaws, and even cheesy undeveloped characters. Seriously, I enjoy movies like this when I want to.

    When I want to watch a good film, I don't make a trip to my local cineplex. I go to the cinetheque or one of the many independent movie theatres around my area.

    By the way, Gattaca wasn't all that great either, but I still had fun watchign that movie.

  10. walnut777 says:

    i didn't see the movie, and i know it doesn't change anything...

    but in all the philip k. dick i've read, there are at least so many inconsistencies. bladerunner, whether it was the intention or not, fixed up a full book of these sorts of raging annoyances by simply wiping over the entire plot and changing nearly everything but half of the names and the general premise. but to anyone that reads the book, this is poor cinema form in its self. the trouble is, inconsistent as they all seem to be, philip dick always had very good ideas, and always brought up fairly decent philosophical bits to think about, even though the writing was a bit shoddy. and so everyone itches to make movies of them, knowing you nearly have to fuck over the writer or have the movie play out as poorly as the books did. i know it doesn't change that the movie was shit, but i like to think maybe its just consistent. hell, i didn't even see it. i've written to that point that i write to, to where i'm forgetting why i started and getting ill in the stomach. i hope i had a point and finished it. i need fruit.