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If you could see the future, could you prevent it from happening? Or would events somehow conspire to make it come true?
That's the question -- never quite answered -- that lies at the heart of "Minority Report," a tightly-plotted, well-acted sci-fi movie that dabbles in chronophilosophy when it isn't bouncing through intertwined murder mysteries. Steven Spielberg's direction is tight and dramatic, the actors all do excellent jobs, and the one downside is the lackluster fight scenes.
In the not-too-distant future (next Sunday A.D.), murder is no longer a problem in the Washington DC area. The PreCrime Unit uses three "precogs" to predict where and when a murder will happen, and apprehend the murderers before they have a chance to kill.
Ever since his son was kidnapped, Captain John Anderton (Tom Cruise) has thrown himself into his PreCrime work. His faith in it is absolute, even when the justice of it is questioned by a clever young auditer, Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell). But then one of the precogs sees a vision of Anderton committing a crime: in 36 hours, he will shoot a man he has never even met before.
Like anyone else, Anderton immediately goes on the run, hoping that there is some way that the precogs could be mistaken about what will happen. His former partners and coworkers are all trying to hunt him down before he kills, but they aren't able to keep him from kidnapping the precog Agatha (Samantha Morton). Is Anderton doomed to his fate, or is the future not what PreCrime thinks it is? And who has set him up?
You can't really have a story about knowing the future without delving into the whole "free will vs. determinism" debate -- are we masters of our own fate, or will the future unfold as it was foretold? While it only lightly touches on the debate itself, "Minority Report" hinges entirely on those questions -- and while obviously it can't answer them entirely, it wraps the story in twists and double-twists that swing it both ways.
Spielberg's direction is tight, sleek and fast-moving, and he tosses in casually cruel touches (the eye-scanning spiders) that show the lack of real justice in PreCrime's world. He also shows that he's pretty amazing at making a murder mystery, twisting together some seemingly unconnected murders with a truly plausible precog-related motive. Everything makes sense by the end.
The movie's biggest problem is that the action scenes just aren't that good. The most ludicrous one is Cruise and Farrell fistfighting in a car factory as giant deadly robot arms assemble a car AROUND CRUISE, followed by Cruise simply driving out of the building. Yeah, that won't need fuel or anything.
As for Cruise, he's pretty good here. He's playing the same character he usually plays -- a pure-hearted yet tormented man fighting against the Big Bad System, and his flaws (addiction to a drug I didn't really understand) don't detract from his heroism.
Honestly, I was more intrigued by Colin Farrell's subtle performance as Danny Witwer -- a quiet, religious, intense man whose sense of justice is needled by the existence of PreCrime, and whose hunt for Anderton makes him realize that there's more going on here.. And there's a ring of other excellent performances -- Samantha Morton's ethereal Agatha, Max von Sydow, Neal McDonough, and the wildly underused Kathryn Morris as Anderton's estranged wife.
"Minority Report" is a solid, sleek action movie draped in a mantle of philosophical ponderings, and only the clumsy action sequences bog it down. Even if you're not a fan of Cruise, this movie should be seen.
Minority Report is one of the best ‘real’ science fiction movies of all time; by ‘real sci-fi’ I mean a film that looks intelligently at the world of tomorrow and asks thought-provoking questions, rather than simply blowing up spaceships. This is hardly surprising since it’s based on a short story by the philosophical sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick, whose works were the inspiration for the equally brilliant Blade Runner and the distinctly daft Total Recall, amongst others. The set-up here is that three ‘Pre-Cogs’ are able to see murders before they take place, allowing Pre-Crime officers to arrest killers before they can commit the crime. Tom Cruise is the poster boy Pre-Crime cop who has secretly become a drug addict following the abduction of his son, Max von Sydow is the boss of Pre-Crime who will do anything to expand the experiment across the whole of the US, and Colin Farrell is the hotshot Attorney General agent trying to find flaws in the Pre-Crime system. When the Pre-Cogs predict that Cruise himself is going to commit a murder he is forced to go on the run. As he tries to find proof that he is not a future murderer he encounters various weird and wonderful characters and ultimately discovers that Pre-Crime is not the infallible system he thought it was.
Minority Report is brilliant in every regard from script to acting and from design to visual effects, all expertly marshalled by Steven Spielberg who skilfully combines the intricate, intelligent plot with dramatic action sequences. Cruise has never been better and the supporting cast is also superb, with Samantha Morton especially excellent as the Pre-Cog Agatha. There are also some really creepy sequences, such as the spyders and the eye surgeon. My only gripe is the way Cruise has to explain what has been going on rather than allowing the audience to work things out for themselves.
The film looks and sounds fantastic on Blu Ray, but I have some minor gripes about the bonus features. The good news is that all the material from the previous DVD release has been carried over, though bizarrely while you can pause these featurettes you cannot scan forwards or backwards, so if you miss something that someone has said you’ll have to start from the beginning! There are some very good new retrospective documentaries looking at the life of Philip K. Dick, the props, and the real world application of the movement-controlled computer interface. There is also some behind the scenes and previz footage from various key action sequences. One featurette I could have done without though is the Pre-Crime ‘mockumentary’.
Aside from not being to the control the old DVD extras this is an excellent collection of bonus material, but when you first click on ‘Extras’ the first option you see is an ‘interactive’ interview with Steven Spielberg. The interview runs for 34 minutes but along the way you have the option to watch various related interviews and photo montages and it took me a good couple of hours to get through everything. Then, to my dismay, I discovered that *everything* here is included in the other bonus material on the disc, apart from a few seconds of the Spielberg interview. In fact the vast majority of the disc’s bonus material can actually be watched via the rather cumbersome interactive pop-ups. I would suggest that you watch the Spielberg interview but don’t brother with the pop-ups, and then watch all the bonus material separately.
Minority Report is a brilliant film and aside from some niggles about the bonus features this is an excellent Blu Ray and absolute must-buy for any sci-fi movie fan.
I have only recently seen this film but even allowing for the passage of time found it pretty boring storytelling. Based on a short Philip K. Dick story the length of the film seems to have stretched the concept (preventing crimes in the future before they are actually committed) to breaking point. In addition to being way too long a film, the story as with so many sci-fi films, once it has been stripped of the special effects is not that original given I had guessed the finale way before we got there. Throw in some weird plot shifts and add some hard to believe plot twists (Tom Cruise having new eyeballs inserted by backstreet operation!) and it doesn't make for great viewing for me anyway.
I must admit the main interest which kept me going to the end was more the whole concept of how political states and mass marketing regimes monitor their citizens/buyers in the future which given subsequent developments on facial recognition especially makes the end film not as throwaway as my initial comments may infer.
This should be a five star review but it's not. Its a five star movie with one star, at best, picture quality MR is the first digitally shot movie and Spielberg made a complete mess of the picture. Suffice to say that it's awful We all know about the movie and story. Cruise is superb as ever Thankfully Spielberg has seen the light and ditched digital and gone back to celluloid. What a pity he gave into pressure and made this movie digitally. Minority report is a movie that deserves much better picture quality than this.
I'm not a Tom Cruise fan, I need to say that from the start.
I look at his films with a degree of trepidation. This one, however, isn't bad at all.
Cruise plays John Anderton, a drug using pre-crimes cop who is forced to go on the run after the pre-cogs show that he will commit the premeditated murder of a man he doesn't know. The film follows Andertons attempts to discover who the man is and why he's going to kill him. Once he has discovered who and why, he has to decide what to do next.
Yes, it raises the obvious question over free will, there is always a point in crime when you make the decision to continue or to stop. Which reminds me of the UK Government's intention to look for the "evil" gene so it that criminals can be institutionalised before they commit crimes. Such preemption can only cause problems, no matter the reasoning behind it, it assumes that all people will act to type, that children born into a family of criminals will become criminals, that children of murderers will murder, and so on. Free will isn't just the right of the politicians or the rich, it is a basic right of all. This film touches on that.
Overall, it was an interesting film about an interesting idea.
I've relished repurchasing this wonderful DVD for my collection, so why have I thought it worth it? It can stay on my shelf for many months, but there will come a time when I want to watch it. So I will rely on my memory of this unusual, poignant and atmospheric performance, of a very strange tale, almost at the limit of imagination, and pulled off so well by all members of the cast and the supporting team. Its plot is exciting, and Tom Cruise takes his acting to another level to pull this off, his desperation at trying not to get caught, is vivid, as is the efforts of his fellow officers to catch him, and the story goes on at breakneck speed, through many landscapes, idyllic countryside and the opposite, the squalor of futuristic city slums, and a wonderful illegal eye transplant, to its ultimate conclusion, a very emotionally satisfying experience. I know that when I pull it off the shelf to review it, I'll get an experience reminiscent of fine wine, although I'm familiar with the flavour, it's still a thrilling experience.