Minority Report Review

by Bob Bloom (bobbloom AT iquest DOT net)
June 19th, 2002

MINORITY REPORT (2002) 3 1/2 stars out of 4. Starring Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max Von Sydow, Lois Smith, Peter Sormare, Tim Blake Nelson, Steve Harris and Kathryn Morris. Screenplay by Scott Frank and Jon Cohen. Based on a short story by Phillip K. Dick. Music by John Williams. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Rated PG-13. Running time: approx 2 hours, 20 minutes.

The year is 2054, and Washington D.C. has not experienced a murder in six years because of a pilot program called Pre-Crime in which, through the use of “Pre-Cogs,” killings are stopped before they occur and the guilty are punished before they can take a life.

Now, a national referendum is scheduled to determine whether to expand the program to the entire country. And while those who run the project, including Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise), believe Pre-Crime is infallible, others are sniffing around seeking flaws.

This is the starting point for Minority Report, director Steven Spielberg’s second consecutive foray into the realm of science fiction.
Based on a story by science-fiction writer Phillip K. Dick, Minority Report is a lively combination of s-f, whodunit, chase movie and film noir.

The main thrust of the story is Anderton being transformed from hunter to hunted. The “pre-cogs,” — a trio of individuals with enhanced psychic powers whose visions of killings have never been in error — determine that Anderton is going to commit murder.

To keep from being arrested and put away from a crime he knows he will not commit, Anderton goes on the run. He wants to find out who set him up and why, plus discover how an infallible system has become fallible.
In the process, Anderton’s faith in the system in which he so strongly believes is severely shaken.

Minority Report is a slam-bang, seat-of-your-pants outing offering a future that is not too alien, yet also feels a bit retro. It also previews a world that could be a civil libertarian’s worst nightmare. Retinal scanners are everywhere — on subways and at the mall — so the police can be aware of most everyone’s every move.

Director Steven Spielberg, along with screenwriters Scott Frank and Jon Cohen, offer such visual delights as vertical highways attached to high-rise buildings, as well as such noirish staples as a nightmarish slum district in which eyeless drug dealers push the latest feel-good narcotic.

Which brings us back to Anderton, a man carrying the guilt of a tragic loss. As portrayed by Cruise, he is a man obsessed and haunted; wanting to stop crime, yet unable to solve the one involving those closest to his heart. It is one of Cruise’s strongest performances as he creates an anguished individual on the run — literally — from what he helped create — and figuratively — from his past.

Cruise is backed by a strong supporting cast including Colin Farrell as Danny Witwer, the Justice Department official seeking flaws in the Pre-Crime system so he can take it over when — and if — it goes national; Samantha Morton as Agatha, the main “Pre-Cog” who helps Anderton; Max Von Sydow as Lamar Burgess, Anderton’s mentor and the father of Pre-Crime; and Lois Smith as Iris, whose research paved the way for the system and who sets Anderton’s feet on the path of discovery. Also contributing a quirky performance is Tim Blake Nelson as the organ-playing Gideon, the overseer of the Department of Containment where would-be murders are incarcerated.

Spielberg has created a nice sense of paranoia with Minority Report, as Iris warns Anderton, “Don’t trust anyone,” as we are led down the twisted path of who did what to whom and why.

The movie also offers a sly wink at our consumer future as when customers enter a Gap, a holographic clerk — after a retinal scan — asks how they enjoyed their previous purchase, and naming that item.
Be warned, though, a gross-out section dealing with eye transplants may make you a bit queasy.
Frequent Spielberg collaborator John Williams contributes a pulsing score that matches the film's accelerated pace.

At about two hours and 20 minutes, Minority Report seems to rush by with very little letup. It combines action and intelligence and at times will have you on the edge of your seats.

Bob Bloom is the film critic at the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, IN. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or at [email protected] Other reviews by Bloom can be found at www.jconline.com by clicking on golafayette.
Bloom's reviews also appear on the Web at the Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/M/reviews_by?Bob+Bloom

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