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   MINORITY REPORT (2002) 

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CAST
Tom Cruise
Colin Farrell
Max Von Sydow
Samantha Morton
Steve Harris
Neal McDonough
Patrick Kilpatrick
Daniel London
Lois Smith
Tim Blake Nelson
Kathryn Morris

DIRECTED BY
Steven Spielberg

PURCHASE


DVD



Novel




Time: 118 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Science Fiction/Action/Thriller

Academy Award nomination for Sound Editing.


Cruise and Spielberg bring their cinema super powers together to create a compelling look into our future. Despite huge reservations, even I couldn't resist the combination. There are so many ways this film could have gone wrong. From Cruise being "Cruise" to Spielberg letting his heart rule his mind. There's nothing worse than a hokey sci-fi film. I thought SCHINDLER'S LIST cured Spielberg of his sentimental streak, but it's his heartstrings that ruin A.I. and could have destroyed this film as well. Thankfully, he seems to have finally embraced his dark side, giving us a thought-provoking, emotionally gripping futuristic thriller. It's so unlike him, that I find it hard to believe he was the man behind the camera. Even Cruise explores the seedier aspects of his humanity, taking his squeaky clean image in a new direction. If he keeps this up, I might actually begin to respect him as an actor. With material this good, I won't have a choice.

Adapted from a short story written by Philip K. Dick, MINORITY REPORT raises some curious issues about crime, punishment, fate, personal choice and government control. Started long before 9/11, the film seems almost prescient, dealing with ideas that are currently being debated in our society, the most important of which is the legality of meting out justice before a crime has even been committed. Cruise plays Detective John Anderton, the head of the Pre-Crime unit being tested in Washington DC. The year is 2054 and murder has been virtually eliminated thanks to the work of John, his team and the psychic powers of the precogs. Their ability to see into the future and clearly identify murders before they happen enables the officers of Pre-Crime to stop the brutal slayings and arrest the killer. Of course, one has to wonder if the person is really guilty if the crime is not allowed to take place. So are the musings of Special Agent Witwer (Farrell) sent to check out the system by the Attorney General.

If Pre-Crime passes muster it will most likely be rolled out nationally with Anderton and the program's creator Director Burgess (von Sydow) going right to the top. Witwer is looking for any flaws in the system and is convinced Anderton is going to lead him to them. His intrusion into the precog "temple" sets off a dangerous chain of events that leads Anderton on the quest of his life. One of the precogs, Agatha (Morton), is at the center of the mystery, her visions hold the key to Anderton's survival. On the run for a murder he has yet to commit, Anderton must overcome his dependance on the pain from his past and concentrate on the future he may not get a chance to enjoy. Since the precogs have never been wrong, he is forced to accept his fate, yet his journey opens his mind to the true flaw in the system – a person's ability to change their mind and therefore the outcome of their actions. With the help of Agatha, he is soon on the right track to discovering why he was set up, but even he can't run fast enough to escape punishment. Ultimately, it's her visions that eventually bring the truth to light, exposing the real killer and his evil deeds.


"I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life."

Cruise has rarely been as enjoyable as he is here. Maybe because the role is so well-written. Maybe because he's being directed by one of cinema's all-time greats. Whatever the reason, he makes John Anderton into a character you not only root for, but one you feel for as well. Sure he's cocky and self-assured, at least until he finds himself on the other side of the looking glass. His determination and deterioration in his search for the truth glues you to your seat. He hasn't been this compelling since MAGNOLIA, one of the few other films that he actually let his guard down and played his emotions with any sense of reality. Despite being an action thriller, he creates a character with real depth and integrity, which makes the story more interesting than your regular shoot-em-up affair. Colin Farrell's presence is a perfect counterpoint to Cruise. His intense and unflappable turn as Anderton's supposed nemesis is a real eye-opener. His relentless nature gives the film a desperate edge that adds to the suspense. Von Sydow brings his class, intelligence and weight to the film. It's not a big role, but it is an important one.

What can I say about Samantha Morton except for "wow!" She's amazing here as the precog with a desperate need to see justice done for a murder that troubles her soul. She makes Cruise seem like an amateur. Her lines may be few, but her performance is the soul of this flick. Her character's ability to see the future has brought her nothing but heartache, which oozes from her clear blue eyes. She uses her whole body to give life to this seemingly empty oracle. Agatha and Anderton need each other. She enables him to move past his pain and envision a future and he rescues her from the horror of her visions, enabling her to enjoy a normal existence. When is someone going to give her a normal role to play? I guess the girlfriend/wife part would be fairly boring after a job as juicy as this. Lois Smith and Peter Stormare give her a run for her money in two of the strangest, yet funniest supporting turns I've seen in a very long time. They are priceless, making the most of their precious few minutes onscreen.

In regards to Spielberg, I found myself laughing at other reviewers comments that this was his best film since RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Having seen the movie, I have to agree with the sentiment. Taking SCHINDLER'S LIST out of the equation, since it's far from popular entertainment, MINORITY REPORT is the most well-rounded, complete pieces of cinema he's churned out in decades. It mixes a great concept – how far people are willing to go for a sense of security – with an intelligently crafted mystery, great acting and out of this world special effects. He creates one of the most realistic peeks into the future ever put on film. Everything looks like it evolved over time from our present, making advances seem commonplace and ordinary. The action sequences are suspenseful and original. He also injects the proceedings with a bit of humor to break up the tension, which mostly works, but is occasionally way out of left field. Thankfully, though odd, those moments aren't enough to ruin the whole. Nor is Spielberg's usual sentimental streak. Except for the very last few frames, he keeps the mush in check, letting this very adult tale play out with unmanipulated emotions and intense honesty. A first class effort from two of Hollywood's biggest players.



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