It’s the year 2054 and the human race still hasn’t found a cure for the common cold, but they have greatly reduced murders in Washington DC. This amazing process includes a careful orchestration of inputting mental premonitions from the “precogs”, three unique individuals who can predict crimes with their mental capabilities, and streaming them to Detective John Anderton, lead officer of the Precrime unit, who then “scrubs the images” and finally leads his team of officers in the apprehension of the targeted perpetrator. The psychological impact on the Precrime officers after viewing those images day after day would have been interesting to develop, but this plot focuses on the “precogs” as the Precrime program has the potential to adapted by the entire nation.
John, well played by Tom Cruise, has extreme talent, professionalism and belief in his job, though his personal life is not organized as well. This film features Cruise’s physical and emotional talents in a complete range of experiences constantly changing from subtle to severe. The strong supporting cast includes Colin Farrell (Hart’s War) as Detective Ed Witwer who’s sent to conduct a thorough investigation of Precrime. Max Von Sydow plays the originator of the Precrime concept, Director Lamar Burgess. Steve Harris (TV’s The Practice, Skulls) plays John’s right hand man, Jad, and Neal McDonough (Band of Brothers, Star Trek: First Contact) plays Officer Fletcher. Peter Stormare (Lost World: Jurassic Park, Fargo) plays a shady, but unique medicinal practitioner and Tim Blake Nelson (Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?) plays Gideon, an organ playing warden at the Precrime prison.
Lois Smith (Twister, Falling Down), playing Dr. Iris Hineman, has a very memorable performance with Cruise in a very lively greenhouse. This short, but important sequence gives you valuable background into the “precogs” – Arthur, Dashiell and Agatha. If she had more screen time, this reviewer would’ve pegged her for a definite Supporting Actress Oscar® nomination. Other supporting cast members include the daughter of Kate Capeshaw, Spielberg’s wife, and Eugene Osment, Haley Joel’s father, who plays Jad’s technician.
The plot thickens as the accuracy of Precrime becomes a primary focus, thus the film’s title, especially when case number 1109 rolls in at the Precrime headquarters. “You dig up the past, you get dirty,” warns one character, but John has no choice at this point. The “precog” Agatha, well played by Samantha Morton (Emma TV series, Sweet and Lowdown), gains particular attention once this part of the plot begins. You get high emotion (the Miranda rights have never meant so much on film) and action, especially the numerous chase scenes. The great and original ending brings excellent closure to all presented elements after thrilling plot twists and an emotional family-themed subplot that anyone can relate to.
Director Steven Spielberg creates an excellent mix of intelligence and intensity throughout the plot bookended with opening and closing shots focused on a special supporting character. He produces many memorable images with expert camera shots including a mixed facial shot of John and Agatha; a police chase beginning in an alley and the initial images of a chase scene where Ed exits a car to chase John into an automobile factory. Spielberg uses flashbacks to explain important background information and uses characters like Rufus T. Wiley, played by Jason Antoon (The Sum of All Fears), to inject some humor into the plot.
Excellent cinematography and recent Spielberg films have gone hand in hand and this film is no exception. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan) makes sunlight look like thick fog and soft white beams you could almost touch. Another, even more prominent Spielberg collaborator, namely John Williams, produces yet another excellent musical score. The art/set direction, sound/special effects, and costume designers fortify the film’s emotional impact on the audience.
Screenwriter Scott Frank (Out of Sight, Dead Again), who also served as a second unit director, and first time screenwriter Jon Cohen shape an incredible plot, based on a short story by Phillip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). The film’s producers include Spielberg mainstay Walter F. Parkes and director Jan De Bont (Speed, The Haunting).
The religious references and amazing concepts in this film will give you a lot to talk and think about long after you view this amazing action/thriller. Pine and Oats cereal, redballs, “sick sticks”, and photon milk will have a lasting impact on your mind as will the new line of Lexus automobiles, advertising kiosks that pitch to you by name and the dreaded “halo”. The only element that could’ve used a detailed explanation in the plot was the eyepiece on the secretary, but you could also logically assume it’s function as well. Lines of dialogue such as “You don’t choose things, they choose you”; “How do you stay away from someone you never met?”; “We’re more like clergy than cops” and
“She isn’t alive, but she didn’t die” also stick in your mind. All the situations and decisions made in the film can lead to one common theme – Do you meet your future or make it?
Filmed in Virginia, California and Washington DC, The Minority Report comes highly recommended and PG-13 for violence, brief language, some sexuality and drug content.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler