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Review: Minority Report

Cruise on the run for a crime he's yet to commit

Tom Cruise and Samantha Morton in Minority Report 4-star rating
STARS Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton
Max Von Sydow, Lois Smith, Peter Stormare
DIRECTOR Steven Spielberg SCREENPLAY Scott Frank and Jon Cohen CERTIFICATE 12 DISTRIBUTOR 20th Century Fox RUNNING TIME 2hrs 28mins OPENING DATE July 4

The biggest movie star in the world teams up with the biggest movie director in the cosmos, so the premise better be good. It's certainly audacious. In the year 2054, the homicide rate in Washington DC has been completely stamped out. This is due to the draconian but wholly effective method of apprehending the killer before his crime has been committed. Zero tolerance has become enforced prevention.

Cruise plays John Anderton, the leading operative of Pre-Crime, the private company entrusted with the task of predicting a homicide and then thwarting it. Anderton knows about crime. Six years ago his 10-year-old son was abducted and the perpetrator remains at large. For Anderton, PreCrime is the only solution. Until, that is, he is accused of the future murder of a man he hasn't even heard of…

While Spielberg was criticized for sugar-coating Stanley Kubrick's vision of AI: Artificial Intelligence, his own view of the future in Minority Report is almost Kubrickian. With the colour drained from his visual palette and the interiors having an almost antiseptic look, Spielberg's latest recalls aspects of 2001, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut (with a dash of Don't Look Now too). Even the soundtrack – Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Haydn, JS Bach – smacks of Kubrick.

What the film lacks is Spielberg's characteristic edge-of-your-seat excitement and adrenaline rush. This is a dark, nightmarish conspiracy thriller, a futuristic Parallax View or Three Days of the Condor. More an intellectual than visceral feast, the movie does boast its share of classic moments: a sequence involving a vanguard of robotic spiders is bound to become a cherished cinematic touchstone.

Where Spielberg excels is with his vision of the future - an expansive mix of Metropolis and Washington as it is today - and one of the most credible delineations ever committed to celluloid. There are ideas aplenty (courtesy of the extraordinary Philip K Dick, on whose 1956 short story this is based), which may sate the appetite of the die-hard sci-fi buff. But for mainstream audiences, the film's unwieldy length and emotional detachment may prove a stumbling block.

by James Cameron-Wilson

Read our Tom Cruise cover interview, plus a full set of reviews for the four weeks covered by this issue, in:
Film Review (Jul)

Image © 20th-Century Fox
Review © Visual Imagination 2002. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Jul), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Jul)
#620, July 2002
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