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"A suspenseful short story about futuristic law enforcement by Philip K. Dick."
"Lacks original execution, borrowing from too many sources."
"Never gains enough momentum to get into fifth and out of Cruise control."
Minority Report  


John Anderton: Tom Cruise
Agatha: Samantha Morton
Director Burgess: Max von Sydow
Danny Witwer: Colin Farrell
Gideon: Tim Blake Nelson
Review July 2002

"Everybody runs." So says John Anderton after being corralled by a group of future cops and accused of a crime he is to commit in the future. Such is the basis for "Minority Report," a suspenseful short story about futuristic law enforcement by Philip K. Dick (author of "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep," the impetus for "Blade Runner"), brought to the big screen by Steven Spielberg.

The year is 2054. Washington D.C. has been experimenting over the last 6 years with a new kind of law enforcement called pre-crime. The idea behind pre-crime is that crimes can be prevented before they even happen. Using what are known as pre-cogs, or human psychics, crimes are envisioned and the victims and perpetrators are named. A computerized set of images is collected, downloaded, and filtered, providing the clues as to the location of the crime. Once known, pre-crime police go into action and catch would be criminals.

In the film, Tom Cruise plays John Anderton, a pre-crime officer who joined the upstart agency shortly after his son's disappearance exactly six years ago. Although he is an excellent officer, his life away from the agency is in shambles. Many nights he experiments with drugs and revisits old video images of his wife and child. His wife, upon the loss of their son, left John because he became a constant reminder of that loss.

With a zero percent crime rate since its inception, the organization is looking to gain supporters across the country. In doing so, it has received the attention of the Department of Justice such that the department sends in agent Danny Witwer to investigate this unique form of law enforcement. His appearance and skepticism is seen as an immediate threat against the advancement of the agency and presents a thorn in the side for John.

At about the same time as the agent's appearance, the pre-crime agency receives images of a crime to be committed by John against an unknown individual. Fortunately, however, John is present to receive the initial signal. But shortly after, other officers catch wind of the pre-cog vision and John is forced to run and absolve himself of a crime he didn't commit.

In watching the film, I am reminded of different images from a ton of other films: "Judge Dredd" (law enforcement), "Rose Red" (green house), "Episode II" (chase scene through the auto shop), "Sixth Day" (look and feel of Pre-law and pre-cogs), "Vanilla Sky" (Tom Cruise's face - also, if I'm not mistaken, it looks like Cameron Crowe behind the newspaper on the train!) and "Runaway" (spider like robots) to name a few. Although the initial concept is highly original, I feel that this film lacks original execution, borrowing from too many sources. It's almost as if Steven Spielberg has lost the ability to wow us with creative filmmaking that made such hits like "Jaws," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "E.T.," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," etc. such gems. A.I. was much the same way - an overdrawn splattering of Stanley Kubrick images rather than an original take on the Kubrick work.

That's not to say that this is a bad film. On the contrary, any sub-par Spielberg film is still worth watching. It's just not a great one.

Some things I particularly liked about "Minority Report" were the creative future visions of active newspapers, transportation vehicles, and personal holographic advertisements, the futuristic blue filter cinematography, and the verbal sparring between Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell. The chemistry between these two egos in their short scenes together is fantastic. I only wish that there were more.

But I didn't particularly care for the barrage of subliminal advertising that accompanies this film. And the film leaves many loopholes and much unanswered. For instance, why wouldn't the pre-crime agency remove John's profile as soon as he went AWOL? And why would anyone go to a known felon for eye surgery? In addition, if said felon was someone you jailed, why wouldn't he take advantage of the situation? These are some of the issues I found to be problematic with the adapted script.

Nevertheless, like many of Spielberg's other works, this one is very systematic. There are minor twists and turns that are extremely bizarre and unexpected (green house visit, eye replacement surgery, etc.), yet the major plot points are easy to follow and the outcomes easy to predict. In the end, we are given an alternate ending, with John Anderton haloed and imprisoned. In fact, a darker auteur would have ended it that way, making for a more poetic and compelling piece. But that would be unconventional and disappointing to audiences. And that's not Steven Spielberg.

Overall, the film entertains while shifting gears between action, sci-fi, mystery, and suspense. It's good bubble gum fun, but never gains enough momentum to get into fifth and out of Cruise control.

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