Just as the techno-geeks started getting bored to death watching The Matrix over and over again, Spielberg's Cruise-controlled SF whodunit arrives like a blessing. Scott Frank and Jon Cohen have adapted the screenplay from a story by Philip K Dick (Blade Runner). The science fiction drama takes place 50 some years from now in Washington DC. The citizens have become convinced that "that which keeps us safe also keeps us free." Sounds familiar? Be my guest!
The Legend: 2054 AD. Washington DC, the murder capital of the nation, hasn't witnessed a homicide in six years. The bloodshed has been brought to a standstill by the privacy-invading Department of Precrime (DOP). The DOP uses the services of a police force that employs "pre-cogs" - semi-comatose psychic visionaries floating in a vat of goop half-naked - to rake into the future and see murders before they happen.
The potential murderers are then arrested and imprisoned before they commit the murder. Careworn John Anderton (Tom Cruise), Precrime's acme cop, has dedicated his life to the eradication of violent crime after his young son was kidnapped and presumed bumped off.
Anderton is now scrutinizing a Precrime, operating a complex computer system that is directly associated with the visions of the three pre-cogs. Okay, I get what he's doing, but the idea that operating a computer 52 years from now will be something akin to conducting an opera seems extraordinarily stupid. Then without more ado John and his subordinates are at the imminent-crime scene and miraculously manage to steer away the future-crime.
John believes that the pre-cog 'n' pre-crime system is flawless. But according to the relevant Murphy's Law ("If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which a system can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will
promptly develop") the system inherits a flaw, and John himself falls prey to the flaw. John is fingered... er... pointed at by the pre-cogs as being a potential murderer of a man whom he has never even met. Determined to prove his innocence and the system wide off the mark, John kidnaps the key pre-cog named Agatha (Samantha Morton) and goes on the lam.
Although "Minority Report" is all but loaded with special effects (cars that climb the sides of buildings, mobile mechanized spiders that take eyeball prints, and billboards that actually call people by name), Spielberg never allows them to overwhelm the characters or the plot. Good thing or bad, you decide. Must say that you can't help but wonder how much of this projection of the future might as well come true! I can't wait to see, can you?
Minority Report is a timeless specimen of the classic roller-coaster SF movie tribe. That is to say, the movie will either give you the thrill of your life or just make you sick, depending on whether or not you buy SF squeeze. Needless to say, it calls for repeated viewings to take in all the special details and meanings.