With no new summer releases for the foreseeable future, I’ll be reviewing my favorite pieces of popcorn entertainment every week and assembling my dream summer movie lineup. Though some of these movies are older, there will be no spoilers in these reviews. Hope you enjoy!
Steven Spielberg — the grandfather of the summer movie — found success in crowdpleasers like Raiders of the Lost Ark only to then start branching out toward more topical fare like Schindler’s List later in his career, but I would argue Minority Report is the first time he ever truly combined his vision of a traditional blockbuster and a more thought-provoking drama into one. The result? A thrilling, chilling portrayal of the future that highlights the best both of sci-fi and action movies.
If I’m allowed to oversimplify, this movie has two not-so-secret weapons — worldbuilding and setpieces. In terms of worldbuilding, everything feels effortless; within the film’s amazing opening sequence we already know everything we need to know about the laws and values of the movie’s dystopian future, as well as the moral question at its heart: is it justifiable to arrest somebody for a crime that they were minutes away from committing when we can prove it was going to happen? It’s one of those perfect sci-fi concepts that gets under your skin, and it only continues to evolve throughout the movie through twists and turns that are genuinely surprising.
On the other side of the equation lies some really impressive action sequences which, while thrilling, never feel at odds with the movie’s more philosophical moments. In fact, they even work hand-in-hand, as when Tom Cruise is racing through a city and hanging off the edge of a flying car, we’re still learning more details about how this dystopian future operates as we see advertisements on billboards pass by or we get a glimpse of their abnormal form of traffic flow. It also doesn’t hurt that Tom Cruise is one of the greatest action stars of all time, elevating every stunt to the next level with a sheer commitment to the role, all of which are filmed via Spielberg’s expert sense of blocking and camera movement.
Nearly 20 years after its release, this movie holds up in every regard both in its commentary on our lack of privacy as well as action sequences that really haven’t aged a day. This is far from the last time I’ll be discussing Spielberg in one of these reviews, but Minority Report is one of his most towering (and underrated) achievements — a blockbuster full of thrills and ideas, all while never sacrificing the other. What more could you want from a summer movie?