In 2054 in Washington, murderers are caught before they commit the crime, using ‘precogs’ who can sense the coming murder or rape, ensconced and cared for in a complex techno-lab. The elite Pre-Crime unit established by Lamar Burgess (Max von Sydow) and run by Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise), uses visions from the three ‘precog’ psychics as evidence, the most gifted being Agatha (Samantha Morton). The whole system is threatened when Anderton is confronted by evidence that he will himself murder a stranger in less than 36 hours. Anderton runs, like anyone would, from the state-of-the-art control centre to prove his innocence. With the man from Attorney General’s Department who is his rival for the job, Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) hot on his heels, Anderton has to discover if the psychics can ever be wrong. Is there a hidden view of the future, an alternative? A minority report . . .
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
We can thank Steven Spielberg for recognising a great idea in Philip K. Dick’s short story and handling the adaptation to cinema with verve and imagination. Spielberg confesses this to be one of his selfish pleasures of a film, and we can see why. The stretch of imagination induced by Dick infects the whole filmmaking team and gives us a gripping new slant on the future. Of course, it’s no such thing. It’s just a crazy idea that surfaces during the midnight hours of a carousing and crowded conversation, knocked into acceptable fantasy by Spielberg and his actors. But gee whizz, it’s done well. And that’s all we ask; make us believe, just for a couple of hours, that there is such a thing as crime prevention, that good and just men are brave enough to tackle the bad seeds and stop them spreading . . . Tell us a story, Steven. And he does. And the stars are Janusz Kaminski, Alex McDowell, Michael Kahn and John Williams, who fuse their arts and crafts to mould a movie with mood and menace and might. The acting stars also shine, each in the right role and with the right mix of endurance and edginess to capture our imaginations. The moral issues are nothing more than worn signs on the road to an adventure, and the moralising is kept to a minimum. Best of all, there is no schmaltzy ending (even if it’s a little trite) so we can emerge into the real world without feeling sickly. Minority Report is what it set out to be: a fast, gripping thriller, aimed at a mass market of idealists who love to see the right guys do the right thing – against all odds.
Review by Louise Keller:
An exhilarating futuristic thriller-noir, Minority Report twists the best of technology around a gripping story, delivering a riveting, pulse intensifying escapist adventure of the first order. Spielberg and Cruise prove a powerful combination, the disappointments of A.I. and Vanilla Sky forgotten, as we are launched into an intoxicating, intense world where Big Brother rules supreme. From its stunning blue-tinged production design to the richness of John Williams’ edgy score, all the ingredients have been carefully stirred to produce a chilling environment in which the eerie water-bound psychics reveal their devastating predictions and there is no escape. There’s no shortage of action and hair-raising stunts, and the first hour in particular is simply enthralling, keeping us on edge every second. We are confused, dazzled, intrigued, confounded and mystified. Technology is well used as a tool, an ornament and mood-builder, while the world is dark and grainy, filled with shadows as the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. The gadgets are highly imaginative and include startling eye-scanning mechanical spiders whose spindly metallic legs never tire and cops’ sick-sticks whose function is aptly described in their name. But the rather cool magnetic cars form a big part of the landscape, a wonderful solution for parking problems providing easy access into our living room after shimmying up the side of a tall building. As for home entertainment, who needs vhs or dvd, when we can relive special moments in our past by simply replaying them? Cruise is back at his best – enigmatic and charismatic. The role fits him perfectly and he delivers on all counts with added maturity and gravitas. Samantha Morton (so memorable in Sweet and Low Down), with shaved head and eyebrows, is eerily wonderful as the tormented mutant Agatha, with her malleable, expressive face that communicates on every level. Even the slightly un-uniform nature of her teeth work in her favour, and when she opens her mouth wide, screaming ‘RUN!’ the moment is as unsettling as a tempest about to hit. It’s a solid cast all round with Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell and Peter Stormare, while Tim Blake Nelson haunts as the bizarre organist who plays for the condemned. It’s engaging, entertaining and breathtaking escapism; I loved every minute.
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STEVEN SPIELBERG INTERVIEW by Jenny Cooney Carrillo
MINORITY REPORT (M)
CAST: Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Kathryn Morris, Tim Blake Nelson, Peter Stormare
PRODUCER: Jan de Bont, Bonnie Curtis, Gerald R. Molen, Walter F. Parkes
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
SCRIPT: Scott Frank, Jon Cohen (screenplay); Philip K. Dick (short story)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Janusz Kaminski
EDITOR: Michael Kahn
MUSIC: John Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alex McDowell
RUNNING TIME: 147 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 20, 2002