We watched the DVD of Minority Report last night and I was shocked how good it is. The film works as an Fugitive-type crime thriller, a psychological study of loss and grief, as a clever and convincing sci-fi gee-whiz spectacle, and most importantly as as provocative cautionary tale regarding factors in play right now: genetic manipulation, total governmental awareness, the needs of the many vs. the rights of the few, and the morality of foreknowledge.
From all I have heard, Tom Cruise is a monomaniacal, utterly self-absorbed, cold, manipulative asshole. This predisposes me against him; however, with some exceptions, I find I consistently become quickly absorbed into his roles, forget who he is, and enjoy another compelling performance. That is certainly the case here as Cruise stars as the chief of a police unit dedicated to stopping murders before they happen, driven on by the disappearance and presumed death of his young son six years previous.
Set 50 years in the future and based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, technology rules most aspects of life: all citizens are identified by eye-scan, all marketing is deeply personal, and public safety has trumped personal privacy.
The “precrime” experiment in Washington DC turns on the precognitions of three special people – “better not thought of as human” – who foresee all regional murders before they occur, giving the precrime unit visual clues to the coming crime which they must decipher in order to prevent the crime. In order to facilitate their visions, the “precogs” are kept drugged, wired and floating in a pool in what amounts to sensory deprivation. Their lives are – shall we say – not their own.
In what becomes an intricate plot, Cruise is accused of a premurder and must avoid capture, clear himself, and unravel the truth before the preordained moment arrives. Cruise, Max von Sydow and Colin Farrell (The Recruit) are all excellent, and Stephen Spielberg’s direction is intricate without being busy, and taut throughout. There is a fairly large plot hole exposed at the end, but we were riveted for over two hours.