Steven Spielberg is the most consistent director in Hollywood. Let's face it: People go and see each and every one of his movies expecting a great film, and for the most part, get one. Sure, no one can love every single movie ever made, but Spielberg works things out better than any other director.
A.I. raised people's eyebrows. Here was a movie, a sci-fi that starred a kid in a Pinocchio-type story, but it wasn't a children's movie, and it wasn't an action movie. It was a thought-provoking sci-fi drama. Granted the ending dragged on for quite a long time, A.I. was still a great movie. It made you think, it was well made, and Spielberg is allowed to risk things every once in a while, isn't he?
Then there's Minority Report. At first glance it could be a simple sci-fi action movie, but most people know before seeing it that it is going to be a little more intellectual than that. Not everybody wants an intellectual movie in the heart of summer, and so this makes Minority Report Spielberg's second risky film in a row, and another sci-fi movie. Sure, Tom Cruise is a box office monster, but his last film, Vanilla Sky, faded off quickly because it too was risky and a little too high brow for the common moviegoer.
Thankfully, Minority Report delivers everything that people need. It has action, it has a plot (based on sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick, who was also the man behind 2002's less-praised thriller Impostor), it has Tom Cruise, it has darkness, it has comedy, it has politics, and it definitely makes you think. Here, Steven Spielberg has made a smart movie suspenseful, like he has done so many times in the past. In a way, it is very similar to Jurassic Park; it raises the question of even though we can do something, should we do it?
Minority Report is about a man by the name of John Anderson, a police officer who is in charge of an elite squad that uses three psychics to predict murders before they happen. There has been no murder in six years, but does that mean the system is flawless? Anderson thinks so, until the psychics see him kill a man. Anderson goes on the run to solve the crime, but in the process is he getting closer and closer to his inevitable fate, the fate that he has already seen with his own eyes? It is a dream plot with some good twists, great suspense, and some other weird stuff.
The great thing about Minority Report is that it is able to be grim without being too dark. Spielberg has made a film that is realistic, despite the fact that there are cars that move on three-dimensional highways, computers that know every single person's retina identification, and so forth. Are any of these concepts that far away? Probably not. Furthermore, he adds to the realism by throwing in some dark elements that make his world whole. This isn't some fluff sci-fi film with bright colors (we saw the same thing in A.I., only more extreme: On the surface, the world was perfect, but deeper down, there are huge holes); the world still has its shadows. Spielberg gets semi-graphic with the opening murder scene (which is a terrific beginning, by the way), has Tom Cruise's eyeballs taken out, and isn't afraid to throw in a very quick little sex scene and some domestic fighting (which is superbly turned into comic relief here). On the other hand, the film isn't gruesome, nor is it so gritty that the theater is pitch black the entire time. The world is nearly perfect; is it too perfect?
There are many directors that can make a good sci-fi world, however. It takes a plot and good filmmaking to turn a sci-fi movie into a masterpiece. The plot is smart, complicated, and has a good little twist partway through. The filmmaking is even better. The action scenes are suspenseful and exciting, although I will warn those searching for nonstop excitement to look somewhere else. The action is realistic for the most part, in terms that it isn't non-stop; Spielberg isn't afraid to throw in long segments of plot development. In fact, in the last half hour, there is no action. Nevertheless, with the way Spielberg makes movies, Minority Report is constantly suspenseful and exciting. Cruise is on the run from the law, but he is also trying to solve a crime. The story never ceases, even if the action does from time to time.
The acting is also incredible. Tom Cruise turns in another good report, blending his action side with his more dramatic side. More than anything, he is an action hero here, but he is an action hero with real problems (he is a drug addict in the movie) and personal conflicts that he must solve before he can get to where he wants to go. Outperforming Cruise, however, is Colin Farrell, who I believe will be the next Tom Cruise. He has the looks, he is definitely a good actor, and maybe with exception to American Outlaws, chooses his movies pretty well (Tigerland, anyone?). He has a smaller role here but he brings great depth to what otherwise would have been considered the clichéd hunter, the lawman searching for the innocent fugitive. Just in his eyes you can tell that Farrell's character knows that the situation isn't right.
Minority Report is an extraordinary movie, the first great film of the summer and one of the best of the year so far.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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