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The threat of violent crime has sadly become a reality for far to many in our society. Compounding this issue is the fact that the nations capitol, Washington D.C., has a homicide rate that has grown steadily over the last few years despite all efforts to curb the problem. In the new film “Minority Report”, director Steven Speilberg has adapted the Philip K. Dick short story into a new star vehicle for Tom Cruise that is set in the homicide free Washington D.C. of 2054.
Cruise plays Detective John Anderton who is the head of the cities Pre-Crime division. Anderton is a solid cop who hides the loss of his son and the breakup of his marriage by using drugs and immersing himself in his work. He prides himself in the infallibility of the system and that there has not been a murder in the city in over 6 years. This has been accomplished by the use of three Pre-Cogs (psychics) who receive visions of the future and are able to alert the police to violent crimes before they happen allowing Anderton and his team to stop murders before they are about to happen.
With a major vote pending that will take Pre-Crime nation wide, the attorney Generals office has dispatched an agent to monitor the Pre-Crime unit as there is an ethical debate about convicting people before they have actually committed a crime, and if the system is foolproof. The system is thrown into question when Anderton is listed as killing a man in less than 36 hours and has to flee from his team in order to discover if the foolproof system he has devoted his life to can indeed be wrong. Tracked by his own team, Anderton has to race against the clock in order to discover the truth behind the system as well as discover evidence to free him from a crime he has yet to commit.
What should have been a gripping and intense action-thriller instead unspools as a rather run of the mill drama, as there is little suspense in the film and the action scenes are less than spectacular. The story unfolded in a very matter of fact way, and there was little tension or drama as the film leads to its predictable and I thought, obvious conclusion. Cruise shows very little emotion in this film other than high, deadpan, pained, and agitated, and is easily the worst performance he has given in years, which I thought would be difficult after the dismal “Vanilla Sky”. There is nothing about Anderton that makes the audience care about him, as he has no charisma or personality. He is a bitter man who is blindly loyal to a system that has turned on him, and only when he is in danger of being caught, does he begin to question the nature of the system. What could have been a gripping moment where Anderton has to battle his inner demons as well as the fact that he may very well have incarcerated innocent people in a futuristic stasis prison is glossed over, losing the potential dramatic impact. Worse yet are the action scenes which come across as very unspectacular and poorly staged, if you have seen the trailers for the film, then you have seen all of the best special effects in the film, as well as the majority of the action scenes. Cruise has shown in past films such as “Born on the 4th of July” and “Jerry Maguire” that he can give gripping and emotional performances and is a gifted and compelling actor with the right part. Sadly he is wasted in the film along with the talented Max Von Sydow who gives a strong performance in a supporting and albeit far to small role.
The film would have been better served with an increase in the action content as well as a deeper mystery as I was able to figure out the who’s and whys of the plot very early and the conclusion was very obvious to me. There were also several gapse in logic such as Anderton still being able to access a high-security area despite being a wanted man. One would think the Pre-Crime IT boys would have locked out his access fast. The color scheme of the film was also bad in many places as there was a very blue tint to many of the areas and only when indoors did the colors return to a more natural look, as this hampered the visual impact of the film which I found highly under whelming as did the costuming as aside from the cars and billboards, the clothing, shops, housing, and weapons of the future seemed better suited for today then for the high-tech future. Dick’s work is ambitious and can be very difficult to bring to the screen, lest we forget that “Blade Runner” was widely panned during its initial release before getting a second chance on video and being seen as the masterpiece that it is. Sadly, Spielberg seems to have burned out his futuristic visuals and ideas on “A.I”, leaving “Minority Report” as bland and lifeless as any film in recent memory.
2 stars out of 5.
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