Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by:Scott Frank, Jon Cohen
Starring: Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton
Released: June 20, 2002
Grade: C

On April 22, 2054, citizens of the United States will vote on the issue of precrime.  For six years, the system has been proven flawless by a well-analysed experiment within Washington D.C.  Precrime is a homicide prevention system developed by both the technologists and crime specialists under government direction.  It allows police to utilise a new technology known as previsualisation - a tool that allows them to witness, verify and halt murders before they occur.

With an unwavering belief in the system, Detective John Anderton (Cruise) is head of the Precrime Unit.  On the eve of the referendum, the unit is visited by a sceptical Detective Ed Witwer (Farrell) to investigate its success on behalf of the government.  He is granted full access to the top-secret facility and gets an exclusive look at the three gifted individuals (known as precogs) who can foresee the horrible crimes.

In an instant, John’s life becomes a nightmare.  The precogs identify him as being guilty of the murder of Leo Crow.  John doesn’t even know who Crow is but with the department certain he will commit this murder in 36 hours, the whole police force is looking for him.  John starts running but keeping hidden is an impossibility.  Technology has reached a point where retinal detectors all over the city can pinpoint one’s location.  So just how can he escape?  Who is Leo Crow?  Why is he being set up?

In the same vein as A.I., Spielberg has chosen to peer into the future to provide stimuli for his film.  Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick (Total Recall, Bladerunner), Minority Report is impeccably shot.  Spielberg has created a believable world where the motives and ethics of every character are placed under the microscope.  In addition to exploring the intriguing concept of precrime, the film predicts how advanced technology will become.  Some elements (such as advertising) are very funny but others (such as retinal scanning) are eerily chilling.

Perhaps burdened by an abundance of material, the film suffers in sticking too closely to proven script formulas (unlike A.I.).  The film is too predictable and we certainly won’t need the help of others to previsualise this finale.  A grittier, tougher ending was needed to deliver a bigger punch.  It’s a cop-out to have matters resolve so easily and a huge letdown to the potential developed in the introduction.

Unlike many of his recent works, Tom Cruise is forced to extend himself with this role and does deliver.  It was both a physically and mentally demanding performance and despite the noted weaknesses in the screenplay, he has the passion to keep our attention and maintain our faith in his plight.  Always wanting to work together, it took ten years for Spielberg and Cruise to settle on this project.  Cruise fans will lap it up but Spielberg fans won’t be as easily satisfied.

Like too many films of late, Minority Report fails to take the next step.  It has something important to say but is inhibited by the method chosen to deliver this message.