|Pick of the Week:|
Reviewed by Ivana Redwine
Tagline: "What would you do if you were accused of a murder, you had not committed ... yet?"
Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report" is that rare science-fiction film that works as an entertaining thriller, yet raises thought-provoking and resonant ideas. I loved the movie when I saw it on the big screen, and I thoroughly enjoyed it again when I watched it recently on DVD. The DVD version comes as a two-disc set, and Disc 2 is loaded with special features.
The star of "Minority Report" is Tom Cruise, and I really like the way he portrays an action-oriented cop in the movie. The supporting actors are generally good as well, and I particularly like Max von Sydow, who plays Cruise's character's boss. But what I like best about the film is the fascinating near-future world that Spielberg creates in it.
"Minority Report" is set in Washington, D.C., in the year 2054. Astonishingly, there hasn't been a single murder in the city during the previous six years because of the police department's innovative program called Pre-Crime. The program is overseen by its founder, Lamar Burgess (Max von Sydow).
The Pre-Crime program is based on the premonitions of three very special people called Pre-Cognitives, who have psychic visions of each impending murder. Sophisticated electronic equipment is used to display the Pre-Cogs' visions to the police, who spare no effort in trying to locate and arrest the would-be murderer before the murder is committed. The cops who work in the Pre-Crime unit are highly skilled and dedicated, and they are led by John Anderton (Tom Cruise).
Because of the success of Pre-Crime in D.C., there's a move afoot to take it national, and the Department of Justice sends over Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) to observe the program. Wanting a closer look at the central component of the Pre-Crime system, Witwer demands entry to the room where the Pre-Cogs work. Although Burgess and his D.C. Pre-Crime personnel don't trust Witwer, they are forced by order of the Attorney General to cooperate with him.
In the past, access to the Pre-Cogs has been carefully controlled, and even the police have been prohibited from interfacing directly with them, ostensibly so that no one could be accused of tampering with the system. But in order to escort Witwer, Anderton makes his first visit to the Pre-Cog room. There the Pre-Cog called Agatha (Samantha Morton) communicates to him her vision of a woman being murdered by drowning.
Anderton tracks down information related to the drowning and discovers the victim's name was Anne Lively. But he also finds out that key information about the case is missing from the files. Later, he tells his boss Burgess about the irregularities in the Anne Lively case, but Burgess seems preoccupied with taking the Pre-Crime program national.
Soon the Pre-Cogs have visions of a new impending murder, and Anderton views the images they provide. He doesn't recognize the intended victim, but when he sees the would-be murderer, he is stunned: according to the Pre-Crime system, Anderton will be the murderer! Anderton suspects Witwer of somehow setting him up, and he immediately goes on the run. He must do everything he can to figure out what's going on, but his efforts are hampered at every turn by the relentless pursuit of law enforcement.
It seems to me nearly impossible to watch "Minority Report" without reflecting on some trends in our current society. For example, it's alarming how little privacy the citizens have left in the fictional, near-future society depicted in the film. And I find it deeply troubling that citizens in that society are imprisoned based on premonitions. But for me, the most appalling thing is that the society is willing to enslave a few people, namely certain psychics, in the belief that it is for the good of the many.
But in the end, "Minority Report" is more of an entertaining detective story than it is a film of ideas. And while I like the way that Spielberg was sometimes able to give the movie a noirish feel, I think that sometimes he shows a sentimentality that clashes with the darker mood, and the ending seems a little forced to me. Still, I like the film a lot, and I recommend it highly.
The two-disc DVD set comes with a great many bonus materials, all on Disc 2, and I've listed most of them below. Disc 1 is basically just the film itself, and unfortunately, no feature-length commentary track of any kind is provided.-->
Selected Special Features on the DVDs:
• Two-Disc Set
• From Story to Screen: The Story, The Debate