MINORITY REPORT SPOILERS
I've just read an interesting argument in a movie gossip column. I'm not sure I agree with it -- I'd have to see the film again -- but I wanted to see what you guys think. The thesis is that the final act of Minority Report
is a fantasy/dream, taking place after Cruise is captured:
Once Anderton is captured, "hallowed" and lowered in to the pit, we hear Gideon (Tim Blake Nelson) say, to the effect that once in that state, you are able to dream out any wish your heart desires.
The last act then is Anderton's fantasy; Lara Anderton (Kathryn Morris) doesn't go to see Lamar Burgess (Max von Sydow), Burgess doesn't utter his Freudian slip ... Lara does not retrieve the gun ... she does not penetrate the prison ... she does not secure her husband's release and she most certainly does not call up the team at Pre-Crime and say "John needs a favour" ...
That whole sequence is wish fulfilment, Anderton's fantasising about a world that operates judiciously, that the wicked are punished and the virtuous are rewarded.
In this manner, the ending is not unlike the escape as dreamed by Sam Lowry in Brazil. Only there, Gilliam let's us in on that fact by having the illusion shattered and we know that Lowry was never rescued at all. But Minority Report's ending is so out of kilter with the rest of the film it is precisely because it is Anderton's dream. The plausibility of the piece is preposterous (enough with alliteration!).
Critics have complained about the ending, saying that it is totally out of tune with everything that has gone before it. However, Spielberg has finally be able to have his cake and eat it by giving an ending that would be in keeping with his traditional up beat finales (and thus satisfying the audience who demands such scenarios), while in actual fact going for something much darker because THE AUDIENCE THINKS IT IS HAPPY while in actual fact it isn't.
The most delicious thing about the double ending is that it offers another point of view regarding the argument of free will and pre-destination. John Anderton can not avoid his destiny when he shoots Leo Crowe (Mike Binder), but when Burgess turns the gun on himself, he avoids his destiny as the killer of Anderton ... thus creating his own destiny which ironically is death.
Since it took the critics a few years to realise that Blade Runner's Deckard is a replicant, I just wonder how long it will take for them to admit that Spielberg could have pulled off such a sinister, cynical, inventive, brilliant and ambiguous ending.