Minority Report

Reviewed By Stephen Groenewegen
Posted 10/10/02 13:06:58

4 stars (Worth A Look)

Steven Spielberg’s last film (taking up where the late Stanley Kubrick left off) was A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Spielberg remains in Kubrick mode for Minority Report, a tense futuristic thriller based on a short story by Philip K Dick.

2054 America is convincingly and consistently realised, thanks in no small measure to Janusz Kaminski’s steely-grey cinematography. The latest fad of this world is pre-crime - a system of justice where “pre-cognitives” project images of future crimes, allowing detectives (like our hero, Tom Cruise) to catch perpetrators mid felony. Until, of course, something goes wrong with the system...

The story of an innocent man framed by fallible legal system is a staple of American cinema. But today’s climate gives Minority Report an edge. Political parties everywhere compete to appear tougher on crime. The result is increasingly severe penalties for law-breakers, including innocents caught in the police net.

Cruise dominates, as Cruise must in all his films, but Colin Farrell (as a Machiavellian Justice Department operative) and Samantha Morton (as one of the exploited pre-cogs) provide excellent support. There are some juicy character parts, and Spielberg seems content to let his actors rip. Best of all is Lois Smith as the woman who inadvertently gave birth to pre-crime, in her extended greenhouse scene. But too often the film is unbalanced when actors go all out to make a big impression during limited screen time.

Minority Report’s plot has a natural climax, when Cruise arrives at the time and place of the murder that pre-crime insists he committed. This is when our interest peaks, but Scott Frank and Jon Cohen’s screenplay continues for another half hour. Kathryn Morris, as Cruise’s estranged wife, can’t carry the film on her own and Minority Report ends with a whimper.

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