Minority Report

2002, Movie, PG-13, 144 mins


Give Steven Spielberg some dinosaurs or a cute, funny alien and he'll spin populist sci-fi till the Arcturan cows come home. Give him a philosophical story about technology changing what it means to live in this world and he'll craft a hodgepodge of shallow and unexplored ideas. Adapted from the story by the late visionary SF writer Philip K. Dick, the film proceeds from an utterly fascinating notion: What would be the consequences if one could see into the future and arrest people before they commit a crime? Washington, D.C., 2054. John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is chief of the elite "Precrime" unit at the Justice Department, where three genetically altered, precognitive mutants ("Pre-Cogs") live a womb-like existence, ostensibly unaware of their surroundings and attached to machines that record their visions of murders that will occur anywhere from four days to just a few minutes in the future. Occasionally two wooden balls roll out of some Lotto-looking device, the names of the impending victim and killer etched on them. Are the Pre-Cogs ever wrong? Anderton thinks not, and if he can keep other kids from being kidnapped and killed the way his own son was six years ago, then he's all for voting in favor of nationalizing the precrime program. The whole enterprise collapses when a Pre-Cog visualization depicts Anderton himself committing murder and, determined to clear his name, he swipes female Pre-Cog Agatha (Samantha Morton). At this point, Dick's intriguing premise becomes mere window dressing for a routine chase movie, and not a good chase movie at that. Just because audiences may buy the futuristic tech doesn't mean they'll buy Keystone Kops-style police pursuits, improbable escapes and a cliched climax which hinges on a ridiculously simplistic slip of the guilty tongue. As with A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, Spielberg's admirable intent is to create a prescient, serious science-fiction movie. But neither A.I. nor this film comes close. In addition to the clunky plot turns and misplaced attempts at humor, every other line of dialogue is a clumsy pronouncement: "Dig up the past, you only get dirty." "Sometimes to see the light, you have to risk the dark." To help audiences to see this "dark," esteemed cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (SCHINDLER'S LIST) created a deliberately weather-beaten, grainy look to mirror Anderton's emotional and psychological state. He succeeded — the film looks awful. leave a comment --Frank Lovece

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