Minority Report

on June 21, 2002 by Paul Clinton
   "Minority Report" is fairly similar to "A.I." -- filled with provocative ideas and technically flawless, but somewhat disjointed. And, like Steven Spielberg's last outing, "Minority Report" sprung from a darker, more paranoid imagination (a Kubrick idea, in the earlier case) that doesn't really get its due.

   In his short story, first published in the pulp magazine Fantastic Universe in January 1956 as "The Minority Report," SF writer Philip K. Dick mapped out a claustrophobic future in which murders no longer happen. In 2054, a police division known as "Pre-Crime" identifies suspects, using three psychic "precogs," and arrests them before they act out their crime. The identification of the unit's chief, John Anderton (played by Tom Cruise), as a future killer sets him on the run to prove his innocence.

   Scott Frank and Jon Cohen, in the screenplay, smooth out the rough edges of Dick's story. You wouldn't recognize this Anderton in Dick's description of him as "bald and fat and old." However, Frank and Cohen toss in thoughtful dialogue scenes and let Spielberg handle the suspense, a job he completes elegantly. Spielberg doesn't rush the action and, along the way, adds the little bits of whimsy and humor that have become his trademark -- mechanical spiders swarm a dreary apartment building, and a cereal box chirps its title ("Pine and Nuts").

   As with "A.I.," Spielberg opts for an upbeat ending that feels as if it were tacked on to the tragic, but more logical, one. Of course, casting Cruise in the lead gives "Minority Report" explosive box-office potential. It also gives Cruise a chance to play a man with his share of warts -- Anderton uses a drug called neuroin to achieve "clarity," and he pines after a dead son.

   Max von Sydow is brilliantly smarmy as one of the creators of Pre-Crime, in a role that recalls John Huston's land baron from "Chinatown." Colin Farrell is the purported villain Witwer, an FBI agent investigating Anderton. As one of the precogs, Samantha Morton gives a primal, gut-wrenching performance. John Williams' score can best be described as a cross between Hitchcock and "E.T." Starring Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Written by Scott Frank and Jon Cohen. Produced by Jan de Bont, Bonnie Curtis, Gerald Molen and Walter F. Parkes. A Fox release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for violence, brief language, some sexuality and drug content. Running time: 145 min

Tags: Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Director Steven Spielberg, Written Scott Frank, Jon Cohen, Producer Jan de Bont, Bonnie Curtis, Gerald Molen, Walter F. Parkes, Fox, Drama, 2054, Pre-Crime, psychic

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