Review by Marc Calavera
IT'S FROM A PHILIP K. DICK STORY, so I knew that despite all that could be done to it, it would be at the very least a good pot-boiler, like Total Recall, or a cool display of electronic toys that fell short of an analysis of the human condition like Impostor.
What I did not expect was a new classic, an almost-perfect film on the order of Blade Runner. Spielberg has once again hit a good one, except this time he came as close as he has ever come to a technically perfect movie.
John Anderton (Tom Cruise) works for the Department of Precrime, an agency which depends on three "precogs"--humans who have been engineered to see the future. When they spot a crime, their visions are downloaded into a computer, and the perpetrator's name comes up. A cop, usually Anderton, manipulates the download, finding clues in the background about the crime and when and where it will occur. Police are then sent to the scene to put the perpetrator "under arrest for the future murder of:" the victim.
Anderton believes in the system. He is an advocate of the Department who joins his boss Burgess (Max Von Sydow) in lobbying to keep the program afloat.
Until his name comes up, and his pals come to arrest him for a future murder. Anderton goes on the run, hoping to find out who framed him, or at the very least, whether the precogs can be wrong.
He comes across a woman who worked in the construction of the precogs before her retirement, and is told that they're never wrong.
But sometimes they disagree.
Each time a disagreement occurs, a "minority report" is filed. Anderton must find this minority report in order to clear himself.
This film is not only beautifully filmed, as most Spielberg movies are, but Spielberg brings an excellent performance out of Cruise and of course Von Sydow as the Director of Precrime is a master of any role.
As always, the artistry of the special effects is nothing less than brilliant. We see "spiders" that chase down people and scan their retina, a jailing system designed to keep murderers in "suspended animation," and an entire traffic system designed to prevent accidents, deliver people to locations in a timely fashion, and yet eliminate the concept of police chases altogether. Until of course, Anderton leaves the vehicle and begins jumping from car to car on a verticle expressway.
But perhaps the greatest achievement Spielberg accomplishes with this movie is in the realm of story. Oftentimes, he sacrifices plot or character to enhance "coolness." Minority Report has equal amounts of plot, character, and coolness. Our characters have just the right amount of depth to make us give a damn whether they live or die. The plot is complicated enough to make us keep watching, and the effects are enough to make us go, "Wow."
The movie has not one but three spots where it could have ended. But no, Spielberg keeps us going with perfectly paced plot points, cranking up the tension with every turn, taking the loose ends and running with them until we are on the edge of our seats, wanting to know what the hell happens next.
So does the film have flaws? Yes. There are some spots where we get information that is never used, introduced to characters with too much detail and are never used again, and one glaring "loaded gun on the mantelpiece" that is never "fired."
But can any film be perfect?
The answer is yes, but this one comes very close. Perhaps closer than Spielberg has come since Raiders of the Lost Ark. I heartily recommend this movie. And don't order too much popcorn--you'll forget all about it.
For the love of God, go see this movie.
Incidentally, am I the only one who noticed that all three precogs (Agatha, Arthur and Dashiell) are named for real-life people? See if you can figure out who.
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Imbolc 2002 Issue, Updated February 17, 2002
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