Summer Movie Showdown: "Minority Report" Review

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In the year 2054 A.D. crime is virtually eliminated from Washington D.C. thanks to an elite law enforcing squad "Precrime". They use three gifted humans (called "Pre-Cogs") with special powers to see into the future and predict crimes beforehand. John Anderton heads Precrime and believes the system's flawlessness steadfastly. However one day the Pre-Cogs predict that Anderton will commit a murder himself in the next 36 hours. Worse, Anderton doesn't even know the victim. He decides to get to the mystery's core by finding out the 'minority report' which means the prediction of the female Pre-Cog Agatha that "might" tell a different story and prove Anderton innocent. Starring Tom Cruise & Colin Farrell.

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Summer Movie Showdown: "Minority Report" Review

Rating: PG-13 (for violence, brief language, some sexuality, and drug content)
Length: 145 minutes
Release date: June 21, 2002
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Action/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller

With the 2002 film "Minority Report," Stephen Spielberg shows moviegoers once again why he's considered one of the masters of filmmaking. The creator of past blockbuster masterpieces such as "Saving Private Ryan," "Jurassic Park," "Hook," and "Jaws" brings to the screen a modern science-fiction thriller starring Tom Cruise as an operative in the futuristic PreCrime unit. With PreCrime, criminals are discovered before they commit their crimes, allowing Cruise and his unit to apprehend murderers before they kill.

The film is based on the short story "The Minority Report," which was written by famed sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick. Dick often set his stories in flawed futurescapes where he delved into the question of ethics in societies where technology is easily abused, placing the society itself at risk. In the movie version of "Minority Report," the technology being abused is the actual Precog system itself, the future-sensing psychically driven precognitive personnel who are central to the operations of the PreCrime unit.

Tom Cruise's character, Captain John Anderton, is the head of the PreCrime unit, which is located in Washington D.C. His use of three Precogs, individuals capable of seeing the future, has allowed the unit to stop murders in the city completely by predicting their outcome and arresting the murderous individuals after they've irrevocably committed to the act. The Precogs operate by creating a majority opinion on the possibility of a murder. There are three of them in total, and should one of the Precogs see a different future, a minority report is generated and discarded, with the majority report being presented for evidence. Despite six years of a murder-free capital city, the PreCrime unit remains a controversial one, especially when the unit is poised to begin nationwide operations. To complicate matters even further, Anderton is a drug addict. Since the disappearance of his son, he's been taking the illegal drug Clarity.

In anticipation of the PreCrime unit's impending national launch, an audit is run by a Department of Justice agent, Danny Witwer, played by Colin Farrell. It's during this audit that that Precogs reveal that Anderton will commit the murder of Leo Crow, portrayed by Mike Binder, in thirty-six hours. Anderton, operating under the belief the prediction is an attempt to frame him by Witwer, kidnaps one of the Precogs to shut down the unit, hides the file noting his upcoming murder, and then sets out with the kidnapped Precog to prevent the death from happening.

Upon his arrival at the home of Crow with the Precog Agatha, portrayed by Samantha Morton, Anderton discovers evidence linking Crow to the disappearance of his son. Rather than killing Crow, Anderton attempts to place him under arrest but fails due to interference by Crow himself. Crow confesses to being hired to plant the evidence to force Anderton into killing him. In return, Crow's family would receive a large payment. With Anderton insistent upon arrest, Crow manages to kill himself instead, using Anderton's gun in the process.

Witwer investigates the death of Crow and determines there's ample evidence to reject the widely held view that Anderton is the killer. He presents his findings to the director of the PreCrime unit, played by Max Von Sydow, in the hope of clearing Anderton before he or the Precog Agatha are harmed during the pursuit to capture them. It's at this point the already complicated plot turns even more so, and the mystery of who's behind Crow and the attempt to discredit Anderton begins to unravel.

Though it has action elements, "Minority Element" is extremely plot and character driven. The story is complex, with plenty of surprising plot twists to keep the viewer from anticipating the characters' next moves. The characters themselves are what make the movie an instant sci-fi classic. Cruise's Anderton is a multidimensional man, filled with angst over the disappearance of his son yet dedicated to PreCrime and what the unit is capable of. Colin Farrell's Witwer is intense, combining the patience and commitment of a former divinity student with the stubbornness of a government agent intent on revealing the truth. Samantha Morton also manages to bring a great deal of depth to the screen as the Precog Agatha. Her performance as the most powerful of the three, and the generator of the majority of minority reports is a joy to watch as she experiences the world with Anderton rather than watching it from the PreCrime unit.

"Minority Report" manages to mix its sci-fi elements in smoothly with its action and thriller portions to present a well-rounded mystery for audiences. The result is a summer blockbuster that earns its place as a classic along with other Philip K. Dick stories brought to screen, such as "Blade Runner" and "Total Recall." The adaptation for screen by Scott Frank and Jon Cohen is a solid one, with compelling dialogue and a well-paced plot. Add in the superb direction of Spielberg and the acting talents of the cast, and the result is an enjoyable flick suitable for both teens and adults.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5