Tom Cruise stars as a cop pursued by his own colleagues in this Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation of the short story by sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick ('Blade Runner', 'Total Recall'). John Anderton (Cruise) works for the Pre-Crime Division of the Washington DC police force, a special unit which acts on information obtained from mutants with pre-cognitive abilities in order to prevent murders before they have been committed. When the mutants have visions of a murder carried out by Anderton himself, the cop goes on the run and attempts to prove his own future-innocence. But no matter how hard he tries, Anderton cannot stay hidden from the city's advanced surveillance systems for long.
Full of morally flawed characters, and shot in grainy desaturated colours, Steven Spielberg's Minority Report
is futuristic film noir
with a far-fetched B-movie plot that's so feverishly presented the audience never gets a chance to ponder its many improbabilities. Based on a short story by Philip K Dick, the film is set in the Orwellian near-future of 2054, where a trio of genetically modified "pre-cogs" warn of murders before they happen. In an SF twist on the classic Hitchcockian wrong-man scenario, Detective John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is the zealous precrime cop who is himself revealed as a future killer. Plot twists and red herrings drive the action forward, and complications abound, not least Anderton's crippling emotional state, his drug habit, his avuncular-yet-sinister boss (Max Von Sydow) and the ambitious FBI agent Witwer (Colin Farrell) snapping at his heels.
Though the film toys with the notion of free will in a deterministic universe, this is not so much a movie of grand ideas as forward-looking ones. Its depiction of a near-future filled with personalised advertising and intrusive security devices that relentlessly violate the right of anonymity is disturbingly believable. Ultimately, though, it's a chase movie and the innovative set-piece sequences reveal Spielberg's flair for staging action. As with A.I. before it, there's a nagging feeling that the all-too-neat resolution is a Spielbergian touch too far: the movie could satisfactorily have ended several minutes earlier. Although this is superior SF from one of Hollywood's greatest craftsmen, it would have been more in the spirit of Philip K Dick to leave a few tantalisingly untidy plot threads dangling. --Mark Walker