Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 2 hrs. 25 min.
Release Date: June 21st, 2002 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Steven Spielberg Actors: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow, Peter Stormare, Tim Blake Nelson, Steve Harris, Neal McDonough, Jessica Capshaw, Frank Grillo
n the year 2054, at the Department of Precrime in Washington, D.C., Case 1108 is assigned to Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise). It’s a murder charge in which the deed has yet to be committed. Due to the discovery of the Precogs, three humans with the special ability to predict unlawful activities approximately four days in advance of their occurrences, the crime rate has dropped by over 90% in the area. Anderton specializes in “red ball” situations (designated by an elaborate computer system synced to the Precogs brains that spits out colored wooden orbs), such as 1108, which are crimes of passion – since there’s no premeditation, these murders can only be seen a few hours or minutes prior to the event.
This new scheme is the ultimate invasion of privacy – and it’s on the verge of sweeping the nation. Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) is sent from the Attorney General of the United States to determine if there are any flaws in the system before the program spreads to other districts. Since humans run it, there will be inevitable glitches. The first problem occurs when John digs around the archives looking for a specific murder case in which the killer was apprehended but never identified. Each case is supposed to have three previsions, one from each Precog – the most powerful auger being the catatonic Agatha (Samantha Morton). But several of Agatha’s files are missing. The following day, the divine trio have another visual prophecy – one in which Anderton himself is the murderer.
In the future, automated eye scan devices identify everyone so that movements across the city cannot occur without government knowledge. It’s a scarily authoritarian arrangement designed to demonstrate the oppression and faults of a Big Brother world. And it’s just a piece of a rather impressive conceptualization of the dictatorial, slave-to-technology years to come, mixed with darker, noirish elements of grime and shadows (like an updated “Blade Runner” setting). Other visual accessories and indications of scientific advancements include an innovative, computerized workspace (in which files float across translucent screens – an idea frequently spoofed and copied), high-speed cars that move up and down skyscrapers, three-dimensional memory files, and rickety jetpacks. Additionally, Paul Verhoeven-styled, commercial-like news updates and invasive media is blasted through enormous monitors stationed throughout the city.
As an action picture more predominantly than a thinking man’s piece, the stunts and chases are nicely choreographed, further embellished with fitting music by John Williams. It’s a light-hearted type of violent adventure along the lines of a futuristic Indiana Jones (or any of Schwarzenegger’s sci-fi works), with cleverer escapes and showdowns, and subtle humor fused into the combat. The level of fantasy frequently rivals the severer science-fiction elements, radiating Spielberg’s brand of lively storytelling. The blue-and-black, muted, desaturated cinematography sharply aids the tone of “Minority Report,” which, for a Philip K. Dick adaptation, possesses quite the focus on thrills and destruction over satire and criticism. And indeed, while the story is superbly complex, twisting and turning with expert elusiveness (save for a generic verbal slip to give away the final culprit), the original ending is altered to avoid the bleak, hopeless tragedy most often found in Dick’s potent short stories.
– Mike Massie