Minority Report (2002) 20th Century Fox / DreamWorks Pictures
2 hrs. 20 mins.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Samantha Morton, Colin Farrell and Max Von Sydow
Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Minority Report



Photo: 20th Century Fox

It is rare when Hollywood films employ analytical thinking as a prerequisite for the complete admiration of a film. Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky succeeded in boggling the viewer with a quasi-masterpiece of storytelling (watch for Cameron Crowe’s cameo here as he returns the favor for Spielberg’s cameo in Vanilla Sky), and Spielberg’s last film A.I. served as a melting pot for ethical and moralistic issues. In Minority Report, Spielberg is at it again brewing up another set of moralistic dilemmas that will have many conversing after the film.

Tom Cruise headlines and adds another fantastic commercial piece to his portfolio that will be highly regarded among film fanatics. He portrays John Anderton, a Pre-Crime Officer whose responsibility is to arrest individuals before they commit a crime. Set in 2045, this experimental crime stopping division based in Washington, follows the visions of three gifted individuals known as the ‘Pre-Cogs’. They foresee the future and cause this special unit to capture the individuals who will commit these heinous crimes, before they happen. Before going national, this experiment needs the approval of the Federal Government and this opens the door for the film’s villain (or is he?) Colin Farrell who elegantly portrays Detective Ed Witmer.

While the scenes between Anderton and Witmer are scarce, when they occur, they are explosive. This is due to Spielberg’s spell-binding and intoxicating direction. He sets up the pins and knocks them down in this crafty, sophisticated and cerebral thriller. How does one know Spielberg is masterful? The answer is very simple. It has happened on several instances that Directors who set their films in the future tend to get distracted by the setting and deter the film from storytelling because they are so fixated on wowing the audience with the futuristic sets and gadgets. Spielberg has experience, he is witty and he is the Master of Modern Day Cinema.

Spielberg does not allow himself to become distracted by the setting and simply uses the future as the focal point for the setting, and not the focal point for the film. Based on Phillip K. Dick’s short story, Spielberg makes intelligent use of the futuristic gadgets and all the possibilities the future can offer us, but this cerebral film enables the setting to become part of the film and not the film itself.

The special effects aid in the amalgamation of story and setting as the viewer will be entranced and enchanted with the craft and expertise Spielberg has instilled within this film. The film opens with a direct explanation on how the system works and makes no secret that this supposed highly sophisticated system does indeed have setbacks. From the immediate opening, the viewer is immersed in a feeling like no other as Spielberg and company pull no punches with this cerebral cinematic experience.

From the glossy silver color palette of the film, to John Williams’ subtle yet conducive score, this film is a testament to the soup of talent assembled for this film resulting in a memorable summer blockbuster. Spielberg’s visually stunning film is rich in aesthetic and emotion as well. The performances drive this film to a somewhat typical Hollywood sell-out ending, but the manner in which it is engineered is sheer pleasure. At times formulaic and even predictable, these are minor elements that should not take away from the film’s pleasure. As aforementioned, total concentration and immersion is a prerequisite to follow the fast paced script and lively action that accompanies it. One should not mistake this film for a sci-fi actioneer. While the film does contain some clichéd and overdramatic action sequences such as an overabundance of rocket-packing cops crashing through ceilings, the film is a thriller in its’ purest form set against the backdrop of a futuristic crime-free society. Instead of demoting his film to action status with overtly orchestrated action sequences and heart pounding scores, Spielberg allows the action scenes to take a back seat to his dissertation on morality and ethics.

The film raises some ethical issues and it seems as if Spielberg intentionally wants to scratch at the surface of these vast and confounding issues. It leaves one to wonder, is this technology a possibility? Would it be ethical to arrest someone based solely on the vision of ‘pre-cogs’ ? Is there room for error? All these answers and many more arise out of this great film that sees Spielberg assembling another fantastic supporting cast. From Max Von Sydow as Director Burgess, to Samantha Morton as one of the Pre-Cogs to even Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?). This film makes a groundbreaking mark in conception and originality and Spielberg as the captain of this film drives the performances home. Great performances reflect a great director; suffice it to say that this film succeeds on every level of cinema due in full recognition to the ambitious and masterful Steven Spielberg.

Click here to comment on this review or post your own thoughts.

Giancarlo De Lisi


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