Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell,
Samantha Morton, Max Von Sydow
Director: Steven Spielberg
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 146 Minutes
Release Date: April 20, 2010
“The fact that you prevented it from happening doesn’t change the fact that it was going to happen.”
It was my pick as the best film of 2002, one of the ten best films of the past decade, and now, after years of waiting, it is finally available in the format it was destined for.
Minority Report remains both one of the very best and most underrated films Steven Spielberg has ever made, and when the words “very best” are used in describing a Spielberg film, you can best believe that results are beyond excellence. He’s one of the few living filmmakers who can still astound moviegoers even when he’s phoning it in. But when he’s firing on all cylinders, the result is a film for the history books, which this certainly is!
For 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. And eight years after its initial release, the look of the film still leaves a potent impact.
Courageously blending in elements of sci-fi, action thriller, and a touch of film noir, the movie 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. The safer state of living is thanks largely to the breakthrough system known as the Department of Pre-Crime; a police unit that, with the help of psychic minds and futuristic technology, is able to prevent crimes 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.
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.
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, all the while dueling with a fellow officer, which leaves you 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!
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: That’s Vanilla Sky director Cameron Crowe who suspiciously stares at Cruise on the subway. Look even closer and you’ll spot Cameron Diaz sitting behind Crowe.
As I indicated earlier in the review, Minority Report was destined to be experienced in HD. I’d been dreaming of this film hitting Blu-ray ever since I finally came into possession of my PS3. It took about a year and a half of waiting, and every minute of the wait was worth it! There aren’t enough adjectives in existence to describe the level of excellence that Paramount has applied to this astounding looking release. I imagined my senses being just as incredibly astounded like they were when first seeing the film in theaters, and sure enough they were. The entire world here envisioned by Spielberg and his technical team is rendered so astonishingly in the 1080p, that I found myself swept into it almost instantly, which is really saying something considering how many times I’ve seen this movie. Another great quality is the choice to keep the film’s occasional glimpses of grain in the picture, a clear artistic intention on behalf of Spielberg and Janusz Kaminski. As far as colors go, the blues and grays of the picture have never looked this beautiful. These color palettes play a strong part in making the film the unique visual spectacle that it is. Traditional color does appear in a couple of scenes, which also look fantastic. As far as video quality is concerned, this is quite simply a milestone Blu-ray release!
But it doesn’t stop with the picture quality, as this film is given one amazing sound boost in the form of a knockout DTS HD mix. Of course, top-notch sound quality is to be expected of any futuristic sci-fi flick on the Blu-ray format. But I’ve seen this film countless times, and even I was knocked out by how astonishing the sound mix played off during a number of scenes. The vertical freeway pursuit sequence is a great example, as the cars swooping around Cruise sound even more incredible than I remember in previous viewings. All of the action sequences get remarkable treatment, but it doesn’t end there. This futuristic environment springs to life in just about every sequence, meaning that the surround sound has plenty to work with, like in the scene where Cruise is making his way through a public retinal scan. Even dialogue exchanges heard within the confines of the Pre-Crime building are given an effective touch, like a key exchange between Cruise and Farrell in the Precog lab. All in all, it’s a sound mix that illustrates the magic of a Blu-ray viewing experience.
Paramount has done a quite a unique thing here with the extras on this 2-disc release. I should point out that I’m not the biggest fan of 2-disc Blu-rays simply because this is a format designed to contain so much content on one disc alone and I love accessing all the extras as the movie is playing. But what we have here is a double disc release in which the second disc of extras includes some neat interactive fun. There’s also over an hour of all new behind the scenes content, and all of it is in HD! The main highlight amongst the new extras is a feature titled “The Future According to Steven Spielberg”, featuring an in-depth interview with the director. As the interview is playing, you are able to access a number of relevant excerpts from additional behind the scenes documentaries once Spielberg covers a specific topic. The interview can be viewed in 18 individual segments or as a whole. Also included are brand new featurettes including “Inside the World of Pre-Crime”, “Philip K. Dick, Steven Spielberg and Minority Report”, “Minority Report: Future Realized” “Minority Report: Props of The Future”, “Highlights From Minority Report: From The Set”, “Minority Report: Commercials of The Future” and “Previz Sequences”.
And rounding out the bunch are all of the from the original DVD release, including “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 Spielberg and Cruise. And finally, we have production notes, cast information and 3 theatrical trailers in HD.
As a film lover and Blu-ray collector, it’s simply a great feeling when you see a movie you love get the tremendous treatment it so deserves in the format. Minority Report, in addition to being one of Steven Spielberg’s greatest and most artistic achievements, is a film that deserves to both be discovered and revisited again on Blu-ray. For enthusiasts of the BD format, this release is worth every single penny!