..

MINORITY REPORT
Widescreen

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max Von Sydow
Director: Steven Spielberg
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Dreamworks
Features: See Review
Length: 146 Minutes
Release Date: December 17, 2002

“John…don’t run.”

“You don’t have to chase me.”

“You don’t have to run.”

“Everybody runs, Fletch.”

Film ****

This year has marked a significant occasion. I was very certain what movie for me would come off as the absolute Best Film of 2002 after my first viewing of it this past summer, and so far, my prediction is still a hundred percent accurate. The movie is Minority Report, a triumphant masterpiece of startling originality.

For director Steven Spielberg, this is without a doubt one of his greatest achievements yet, if not his greatest. The same career achievement also goes to its star, Tom Cruise, who delivers perhaps his most strong and intense performances to date, as this adds to his never-ending list of superbly challenging roles, ranking with the star’s recent gems Magnolia and Vanilla Sky. And in the realm of visual effects, Minority Report is a remarkable milestone. There isn’t a single scene in the film where the tiniest bit of visual significance hasn’t been applied. It not only displays the most outstanding special effects of the year, but in years, putting even the likes of Star Wars Episode II and Spider-Man to shame.

Courageously blending in elements of sci-fi, action thriller, and a touch of film noir, Minority Report is set in the not-so-distant future (2054 to be precise) in Washington D.C. Once having the highest murder rate in the country, D.C. has now become murder-free, thanks to the establishment of the Department of Pre-Crime, a police unit that with the help of psychic minds and futuristic technology, is able to prevent crimes, most notably murder, before they are executed. The key to the Pre-Crime establishment are three telepathic individuals known as the “precogs”. Their predictive capabilities provide Pre-Crime with such info as knowing that a murder is going to happen before it actually takes place. Thus as a result, the Pre-Crime is given the ability to arrest someone before they kill, save the intended victims, and preventing the crime from taking place.

“CAN YOU SEE?”

Pre-Crime’s top officer is Chief John Anderton (Cruise), whose drive and dedication seems to come from the loss of his son, who was murdered, and necessarily doesn’t want any others to experience the very pain that he endures. The opening of the film is a marvel, as we are given a thorough look at how Pre-Crime is executed step by step. We see the actual murder occur, that of a crime of passion where a loving husband kills his wife and her lover, replayed a few times as Anderton scrawls through images provided by the precogs in order to get a fix on the location of the murder. The payoff of this 15-minute sequence alone is jaw-dropping.

Although Pre-Crime has been embraced by the people of D.C., it hasn’t gone national yet, though the Justice Department has its doubts about the idea of it. Enter Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell), a bureaucratic fed who seems to be against Pre-Crime, as well as a thorn in Anderton’s side. Things don’t get any better for Anderton when he finds himself perceived as a future murder suspect that is slated to take place in 36 hours. On the run from his own unit, Anderton strongly insists he has been set up, since he knows there is nothing that can lead him to murder, especially when he has never met his intended victim.

“EVERYBODY RUNS.”

As the time of his predicted murder draws closer, Anderton goes to extreme lengths to prove innocence, which includes a daring break-in at the Pre-Crime building to kidnap the most gifted of the three precogs, Agatha (Samantha Morton). Anderton believes she holds information that will be useful to him in helping him clear his name. Though he attempts to prove his innocence, Anderton encounters several stunning surprises along the way as the hour draws closer. The result of it all provides multiple big bang surprises.

The look of Minority Report is one of the film’s monumental high points, and the very idea of it adds a lot to the increasingly inventive story. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, who worked on Spielberg’s A.I. and Saving Private Ryan, once again delivers a look that catches the eye in every single frame. His unique talent for displaying distinctive washed-out frames is put to an extravagant use. And while the movie isn’t necessarily driven by action sequences, the ones that occur in the film will literally blow you away, such as Anderton’s daring leap across cars on a vertical highway, which amazingly looks like a video game brought to life. Another brilliant case is a scene where Anderton eludes his pursuers via a rocket jet pack, while dueling with a fellow officer, which you leave breathless and laughing at the same time, which then leads to a fun duel in a car factory. There is also a stunning sequence involving mechanical spiders that can track suspects through retina scanning, and can find their way in any setting. This scene also involves an overhead shot that Brian De Palma fans, such as yours truly, will appreciate!

“YOU STILL HAVE A CHOICE.”

Minority Report is a newfound classic among science fiction, and movies in general. It mixes in action with thought provoking ideas, which can result in conversations with others following a viewing. Spielberg, with this film, reminds us that he can create adventures of many sorts, and at the same time assault us with the ideas of the story while being thrilled. Excluding his more serious projects like Saving Private Ryan, this is the director’s most brilliant shining moment since perhaps Raiders of the Lost Ark, and contains the same level of high quality enjoyment as the 1981 masterpiece. Spielberg and Cruise sounds like a pivotal match made in heaven, and Minority Report is ever-defining proof!

BONUS TRIVIA: That’s Vanilla Sky director Cameron Crowe who stares at Cruise on the subway. The woman sitting behind Crowe, if you look real closely, is Cameron Diaz.

Video ****

In a word, ASTONISHING! Dreamworks have delivered what I easily consider the best transfer of any Spielberg film to DVD, even better than Saving Private Ryan. What we have here is a video job that just might challenge the likes of Star Wars Episode II and Reign of Fire for the all around best video presentation of the year. The original look to the film, which sometimes shifts from blue to gray, is in sharp, crisp effect the entire way through, and no picture flaw is detected for a second. If I were Spielberg, I’d be saying something like “Thank God for DVD”, because without it, films such as Minority Report wouldn’t be getting the right treatment it so rightly deserves.

Audio ****

If I had to sum it up in one word; WOW! The 5.1 audio track, both Dolby Digital and DTS, provided offers superb dynamic range in every possible turn. From the astonishing action scenes to crowded set pieces to yet another classic John Williams score, this audio presentation is purely flawless and delivers a strong impact to the viewer. Dialogue is heard in superior clarity, as well. The balance in the presentation between the mentioned elements is dead on perfect!

Features ****

And here, we have the first Spielberg movie on DVD to get a four star rating in the extras field. True, Mr. Spielberg has still not chosen to do a commentary, but there is still a lot of in-depth material in this 2 disc set from Dreamworks.

Disc 1 provides the feature, and Disc 2 contains the extras, which include an endless array of documentaries. Included is “Minority Report from Story to Screen”, which covers the process of bringing the story and translating it to the screen, “Deconstructing Minority Report”, which discusses both the locations that were used in filming and various scenes used in the movie. “The Stunts of Minority Report” takes a look at some of the most eye-popping stunt work to ever ignite on the screen. “The Digital World of Minority Report” shows the unique level of craft that went into the special effects, courtesy of ILM. “Final Report” includes closing discussions with Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise. And finally, there is the “Minority Report Archives” which includes trailers, production notes, and cast information.

Summary:

I simply cannot say enough about this glorious masterpiece of a movie. Minority Report should be seen by anyone in search of a truly original adventure of the mind and soul.