Starring: Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell, Steve Harris, Kathryn Morris, Samantha Morton
Director: Steven Spielberg
It’s not often that Spielberg treads thin critical ice (no, I didn’t watch “Hook”). So when the dream hook-up of Spielberg and Cruise was announced last year, saliva was generated in record amounts on the lips of drooling cinema-goers. “Minority Report”, based on a short story by science fiction writer, Philip K Dick (previous stories converted to celuloid include “Blade Runner”), is a futuristic action movie dealing in the concept of ‘pre-crime’.
In 2054, the pre-crime experiment has eliminated murder in the DC area for the previous six years. Director of pre-crime, Lamar Burgess (Sydow – “Judge Dredd”, “Awakenings”), is looking to send pre-crime nationwide via a national referendum. But the very concept of pre-crime raises serious constitutional issues. Using the visions of three gifted individuals known as ‘pre-cogs’, detectives can obtain specific information about future murders and are able to stop them before they are committed. The introduction of pre-crime came six months too late for Detective John Anderton (Cruise) who mourns the abduction, and probable murder, of his son. With his marriage breaking up as a result, Anderton throws himself into his work and is one of the main reasons for its continued success.
However, despite the statistics, pre-crime has its doubters, and one of them is Detective Ed Witwer (Farrell – “Tigerland”, “Harts War”) whose obtrusive observation is either one of general concern for the constiutional questions surrounding pre-crime or else a fixation on taking Anderton’s job. Anderton’s rightful claim that the system is ‘never wrong’ comes back to haunt him as he is indentified by the pre-cogs as being repsonsible for the future murder of Leo Crow, a man he doesn’t even know. Convinced of his own future innocence, Anderton goes on the run to try and find answers but is pursued by his own team, now led by Witwer. Using his knowledge of the system to avoid detection for as long as possible, Anderton tries to buy enough time to find answers to his main question – is there a flaw in the system?
Off the bat, I’ll tell you that “Minority Report” is a terrific movie. Based on, but greatly expanding, a short story by Dick, Spielberg has gone all out to create a science-fiction experience that makes you think as well as blowing your mind with sharp and inventive futuristic touches – the freaky spy-spiders, retina recognition sensors that trigger personalised advertising in the street, interactive video screens that can be controlled by the wave of your hand and ultra-cool video-newspapers.
Spielberg has poured an awful lot of storyline into the 140 minutes that the movie runs to and the frenetic pace and cliff-hanging action sequences are exhausting in the extreme. He’s one of the best directors in the business and he proves it time and time again with a number of great scenes including a thrilling pursuit of Anderton through the back alleys of DC and some real cringe-moments that will make the faint-hearted turn away from the screen.
It’s another notable turn from fast-rising star Colin Farrell who excels as the FBIs slick trouble-maker. Although not as demanding as his quality turn in “Vanilla Sky”, Cruise again does a good job, playing the confident cop with an emotional chink in the armour. Max von Sydow offers solid support as his pre-crime mentor.
“Minority Report” is full of great ideas, numerous twists and oustanding visuals and even though I suspect that the storyline doesn’t stand up to in-depth scrutiny, that’s no reason to miss one of the years top movies.