Minority Report received critical acclaim. It currently scores a 91% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 234 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The site's critical consensus is, "Thought-provoking and visceral, Steven Spielberg successfully combines high concept ideas and high octane action in this fast and febrile sci-fi thriller." The website listed it among the best reviewed films of 2002. The film also earned an 80 out of a possible 100 on the similar review aggregating website Metacritic. Most critics gave the film's handling of its central theme (free will vs. determinism) positive reviews, and many ranked it as the film's main strength. Other reviewers however, felt that Spielberg did not adequately tackle the issues he raised. The movie has inspired significant discussion and analysis, the scope of which has been compared to the continuing analysis of Blade Runner. This discussion has advanced past the realm of standard film criticism. Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek fashioned a criticism of the Cheney Doctrine, by comparing its preemptive strike methodology to that of the film's PreCrime system.
Richard Corliss of Time said its "Spielberg's sharpest, brawniest, most bustling entertainment since Raiders of the Lost Ark". Mike Clark of USA Today felt it succeeded due to a "breathless 140-minute pace with a no-flab script packed with all kinds of surprises." Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly praised the film's visuals, and Todd McCarthy of Variety complimented the cast's performances. Film scholar Warren Buckland recommended the film, but felt that the comedic elements—aside from Stormare's lines—detracted from the plot and undermined the film's credibility.
Several critics used their reviews to discuss Spielberg and analyze what the movie signified in his development as a filmmaker. Andrew O'Hehir of the online magazine Salon expressed excitement over the atypically hard edge of the movie. "Little Steven Spielberg is all grown up now...into of all things a superior film artist...It's too early to know whether Minority Report, on the heels of A.I., marks a brief detour in Spielberg's career or a permanent change of course, but either way it's a dark and dazzling spectacle." J. Hoberman of the The Village Voice said it is "the most entertaining, least pretentious genre movie Steven Spielberg has made in the decade since Jurassic Park." Randy Shulman of Metro Weekly said that "the movie is a huge leap forward for the director, who moves once and for all into the world of adult movie making." Roger Ebert called the film a "masterpiece" and said that when most directors of the period were putting "their trust in technology", Spielberg had already mastered it, and was emphasizing "story and character" while merely using technology as a "workman uses his tools". David Edelstein of Slate echoed the positive sentiments, saying "[i]t has been a long time since a Spielberg film felt so nimble, so unfettered, so free of self-cannibalizing." Jonathan Rosenbaum, then of the Chicago Reader, was less convinced. Though he approved of the movie, he derided it in his review as a superficial action film, cautioning audiences to enjoy the movie, but not "be conned into thinking that some sort of serious, thoughtful statement is being delivered along with the roller-coaster ride."
Andrew Sarris of The New York Observer gave the film a negative review in which he described the script as full of plot holes, the car chases as silly, and criticized the mixture of futuristic environments with "defiantly retro costuming". The complexity of the storyline was also a source of criticism for Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, who considered the plot "too intricate and difficult to follow". Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail criticized Tom Cruise's performance, and though Hoberman liked the movie, he described the film as "miscast, misguided, and often nonsensical". Both Rosenbaum and Hoberman belittled the titular minority report as a "red herring". More positive reviews have seen it similarly, but referred to it as a "MacGuffin".
Awards and nominations
The film earned nominations for many awards, including Best Sound Editing at the Academy Awards, and Best Visual Effects at the BAFTAs. It was nominated for eleven Saturn Awards including Best Actor for Cruise, Best Supporting Actor for von Sydow and Best Music for Williams, and won four: Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction for Spielberg, Best Writing for Frank and Cohen and Supporting Actress for Morton. It also won the BMI Film Music Award, the Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress, and the Empire Awards for Best Actor for Cruise, Best Director for Spielberg and Best British Actress for Morton. Ebert listed Minority Report as the best film of 2002, as did online film reviewer James Berardinelli. The film was also included in top ten lists by critic Richard Roeper, and both reviewers at USA Today.
Minority Report was nominated for AFI's Top 10 Science Fiction Films list.