"Minority Report" is, of course, the famed new effort that joins Steven Spielberg with Tom Cruise. The story is an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick ("Blade Runner") novella that, quite frankly, is a more enjoyable piece of entertainment than Spielberg's last picture, "A.I." However, while much of "Minority Report" is very strong work - emotionally and visually - there are still a few flaws in the picture.
The story is this: it is the year 2054 and a team of 3 "pre cogs" (psychics) are sedated and sitting in a pool in Washington, DC. They see crimes before they happen, allowing the police force to see the images that they see and work to solve the crime from what images they are given. One of the heads of the pre-crime force is Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise), a man who has understandably never recovered from the loss of his son a few years back.
It doesn't take particularly long for the film's main plot to kick in: the pre-cogs, thought to be never wrong, send down another report of a possible crime: unfortunately, the criminal in the vision looks to be Anderton himself, with the victim a man that he's never met. Much of the remainder of the nearly 150 minute picture involves Anderton going on the run to find out if either the pre-cogs are wrong or if someone's somehow set him up.
That's essentially the story, without giving any greater details away. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I'm not completely sold on the picture, but for me, the positives certainly outweighed the negatives. Spielberg's visualization of the future is something incredible to behold and actually, far more enjoyable to be plunked down in than what's presented usually in these kinds of films. The houses in this 2054 often look the same as they do now - however, most of the changes in technology - billboards that scan one's eye to personally sell to them, highways that look like awfully smooth sailing in electronic cars - seem like possibilities.
The film's visual effects (by ILM, I believe) are truly phenomenal, capturing things like the highways with seemingly hundreds of electric cars quite convincingly. Even smaller effects seemed seamless and crisply rendered. The effects are also used appropriately; this is not a film where effects come first and story second. Effects are used masterfully in a sequence where electronic spiders come hunting through an apartment building - one moment that I found particularly amusing was when the little creatures displayed marvelous teamwork - one held up a little flap in the floor while his little co-workers marched along. Longtime Spielberg cinematographer Janusz Kaminski also lends the picture a cold, washed-out appearance that works for the picture.
The performances are generally excellent. Cruise has always been a pretty good actor, but he's started to take a risk here and there and show promise of even stronger efforts down the line. I can imagine other actors that could have worked in this part - Brad Pitt would have been good; even co-star Colin Farrell might have worked, but Cruise certainly gives a very effective performance. Farrell (as a Government agent checking up on the pre-crime system), Max von Sydow (as head of the department) and others also offer fine support. The film's screenplay (by Jon Cohen and Scott Frank) is also superb, with several thought-provoking twists and turns.
Yet, there is a point where "Minority Report" could have maybe stopped and doesn't. This isn't as big of a concern as the one that I had with "A.I.", where the film seemed to come to a perfectly acceptable ending and then went on for a pretty unnecessary 30 extra minutes. "Minority Report" works very well as is, but the last chunk of the picture doesn't seem quite as fresh a take on the noir/thriller genre that the first 105-or-so minutes of the picture did.
Still, pretty minor concerns about what is otherwise an excellent, intelligent, creative and often visually fascinating picture that's easily the best combination of ideas and thrills that one will likely find all Summer (and maybe all year, too).