In this series of articles, I’ll be posting reviews that have recently resurfaced. A number of the reviews I wrote in the past I thought had been lost to time, but after coming to a realization that they might still exist on the Wayback Machine, I was able to relocate many of them. I believe there are still some that are lost and they may be lost in perpetuity, but I will periodically search for that data or re-write those reviews that I have never found or which I never wrote to begin with.
For now, this series will be extensive with over 300 regular (400+ words), short (400- words), and quickie (1 to 2 paragraphs) reviews. I will attempt to combine them as best as I can. Reviews written in early 1998 or earlier, no date of creation exists. I will post the original writing date where known, otherwise the date will be listed as “unknown.” These reviews were written between the date of my site’s founding in 1996 through much of 2002. It was only after this period that I settled on the standard format and length of reviews as well as posting each one to its own individual page, which is why the old data was ultimately lost.
All but the review content has been replaced to match my current formatting guidelines, which are a bit more thorough than they might have been in those early days. Please note that I am attempting to retain as much of the original editing integrity as possible, so spelling and/or grammar errors may still be present. This may also mean that some factual data is not there as IMDb was not as ubiquitous as it is now. So, let’s get on to today’s review.
Scott Frank, Jon Cohen (Story: Philip K. Dick)
Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Michael Dickman, Matthew Dickman, Lois Smith, Kathryn Morris, Tyler Patrick Jones, Mike Binder, Steve Harris, Jessica Harper, Tim Blake Nelson, Daniel London, Peter Stormare
In a future where murder can be stopped before it happens, a cop becomes the object of a manhunt for a crime he has yet to commit.
“Minority Report” is set in the year 2054 and stars Tom Cruise as Detective John Anderton, an officer in the Pre-Crime division of the Washington D.C. police department. His primary responsibility is to monitor a group of three psychic youths called Precognitives or Precogs. Partly deified, the Precogs are a hive mind that can see the future of murder-based crime and are part of an experimental, Pre-Crime project started about six years ago.
When the Precogs foresee Anderton killing someone in the upcoming future, he sets out on a mission to discover if there is a way the Precogs could be wrong. When he discovers that occasionally the Precogs differ in their visions of the future, he begins searching for a so-called ‘minority report’ for his crime.
Steven Spielberg directs “Minority Report” with an incredibly heavy hand. He manipulates every iota of the project, but loses sight of the screenplay itself. It is painfully obvious that Spielberg is attempting to create a movie that partners well with Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” going so far as to mirror a lot of the techniques and themes of the classic director.
Screenwriters Scott Frank and Jon Cohen have crafted one of the most intelligent screenplays in the past decade. It delves into complex themes like government manipulation of society and abuse of the foreknowledge of the future. Significantly influenced by “Clockwork Orange” and “Blade Runner,” “Minority Report” is a paean to the science fiction genre. It celebrates the idea that government is inherently an evil entity run by power-hungry politicians attempting to control the populace.
The acting is quite good from much of the cast. The exception is Kathryn Morris as John’s ex-wife Lara. She is stiff, unemotional and painfully ineffective. Cruise performs above par as the beleaguered cop. Max Von Sydow who plays Burgess, John’s friend and Director of the Pre-Crime division is finally out of his direct-to-video rut. He plays the director with the stern sympathy and rudimentary guile that have characterized his performances throughout his entire career.
Oscar-nominated actress Samantha Morton plays the most gifted of the Precogs, the one who sees all of the minority reports, Agatha. She is innocent and professional and keeps her role active and sympathetic.
The visual and sound effects are quite good, but the true beauty of the film can be found in its production design. From ocular replacement to fully automated automotive assemblies, “Minority Report” envisions a future that could be easily become a reality. The costumes aren’t noteworthy, choosing to stick with a modernist feel while the makeup is effective, if not a bit unrealistic. The only bad aspect of the film is its shoddy editing. During one scene, we see the same flower box broken twice from different angles as the shots were cut together. Editor Michael Kahn usually creates a seamless film, but this time he’s failed miserably.
“Minority Report” is an thought provoking movie that examines how the corruption of power is evident even where you don’t expect it. It shows us that some people will exploit the gifted, without consideration for their well being, for personal gain. Audiences will surely enjoy blending virtually non-stop action with a screenplay that outthinks most summer box office hits.
Nominations for Adapted Screenplay, Visual Effects, Sound and Sound Effects are highly likely. Nominations for Art Direction, Makeup and Original Score are modestly likely. It is unlikely that any of these awards will result in an award.
June 27, 2002