Thinking Crime Doesn't Pay
In the year 2054 major crime has nearly been wiped out in Washington D.C. thanks to the development of a pre-crime system. With the use of three gifted humans the Precrime Cops can witness a crime before it happens and then leap into action to stop it from going ahead. Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise - Vanilla Sky) is one of the head men within the PreCrime organization a system which he believes is flawless, that is until the system predicts that he will commit a murder leaving him perplexed as he doesn't even know the man he is predicted to kill. With 36 hours till the crime is meant to happen John is forced to go on the run from his colleagues who are trying to track him down and find out exactly why the system has predicted that he will kill, leading John to discover more than he bargains for.
For anyone who likes their Sci-fi movies the name Philip K. Dick will be familiar, he is the man who wrote the stories for "Blade Runner", "Total Recall" and "The Adjustment Bureau" plus he wrote the short story which "Minority Report" is based upon. And what writers Scott Frank and Jon Cohen have done turning his story into a screenplay is truly brilliant because it has different levels. As the movie opens and we are taken 2054 we are introduced to the future of crime prevention with the Pre-Cogs who can predict when a murder is due to take place, delivering a visual interpretation of what they see thanks to technology. It's a brilliant idea and combined with the look of the future and the fantastic drag and drop computer systems has you gripped immediately through style and intelligence.
But this initial wonderment of a future where crime can be prevented then springs forth the moral issue that if a crime has not been committed you are basically arresting someone for thinking murderous thoughts. This introduces us to the character of Danny Witwer who questions the legality of arresting people for a crime they are yet to commit because maybe they wouldn't have. But Danny is a character we are unsure of, the investigating the whole system and the people who run it and we are lead to feel that maybe he's got ulterior motives to cause trouble and see the system fail.
But the cleverness in "Minority Report" is not over yet as we then have the storyline evolve which sees Pre-Crime Cop Chief John Anderton learn that the Pre-Cogs have visualised him committing a murder. Now on one level you could say that what follows is not that unique because basically we have Anderton on the run, forced to go to extraordinary lengths including having an eye transplant to avoid capture whilst trying to discover the truth. But it is the truth which makes this far more interesting because there is ingenuity to it as we discover what is really happening. These 3 elements work so brilliantly together to craft a storyline which sucks you in to what is going on.
But the other thing which helps "Minority Report" is Steven Spielberg as director because the vision he brings to life is fantastic. It's impossible not to be impressed by the impressive drag and drop computer system which the Pre-Crime Cops use and how they transfer images from one machine to another is just as good. Then you have other futuristic elements such as the prison facility which again is a visual treat plus there is the projection technology to render video footage in 3D. For a futuristic movie it is all believable and just connected to the real world to make you think that the future could feature some of the technology on show.
Spielberg also does a good job of balancing pretty much everything perfectly so we have fast paced action yet there is enough breathing time so that "Minority Report" never becomes just one action scene after another. The futuristic elements which border more on fantasy are also kept to a minimum so that it never becomes too unbelievable. But the one thing he does wrong, well for me, are the moments of light hearted ness which occasionally end up coming across as cheesy. An action sequence which uses futuristic jet packs is full of these little moments of humour, a table suddenly jumping in a dining room as if evil spirits are possessing it ends up being almost corny rather than amusing. It's just a case that a little less humour and "Minority Report" would have been nearly perfect for a sci-fi movie.
Of course "Minority Report" is a Tom Cruise movie and whilst there are solid performances from Samantha Morton, Colin Farrell, Max von Sydow and Neal McDonough everything does rest on Cruise's shoulders. And whether that occasional cheesy grin annoys you Cruise does deliver a good performance as John Anderton, a secretly flawed man who is haunted by something which happened to his child. Cruise is at home in this sort of action movie, fast chase, fast fight followed by more of the same with some exciting looking stunt work thrown in for good measure and because he is confident in what he does it makes the character feel more believable.
What this all boils down to is that "Minority Report" is one of those rare movies which manages to be an action, mystery, sci-fi but an intelligent one as well. The concepts, the futuristic technology and the balance of action and story all work beautifully in unison so that whilst there is fast paced action there is a storyline which makes you think at the same time.