Minority Report

What makes Minority Report, dare I say it, ground breaking is the science fiction aspects provide the environment for the film but the heart of the movie is a classic mystery

It seems like ages ago that film genres were a simple matter; a movie could be classified as one type or another. Now, the genres are merging, crossovers are more common than ever. Perhaps the genre most affected by this trend is the Sci-Fi. This is actually a good thing; Sci-Fi is becoming more a backdrop for film rather than the motivator. Sci-Fi has done this for film noir with Blade Runner, for the action-comedy with Men in Black and now the Mystery with Minority Action.

What makes Minority Report, dare I say it, ground breaking is the science fiction aspects provide the environment for the film but the heart of the movie is a classic mystery. John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is the chief of an elite and experimental police unit, Pre-Crime. With the help of three precognitive people, Agatha (Samantha Morton), Dash and Arthur, who can see a murder prior to its commission. The system seems to work.

Minority Report opens with a dramatic investigation of a red ball, a murder only a short time away. With the help of a download of the images from the pre-cogs minds and the skill of Anderton’s looking for location clues at the best graphic computer interface I have ever seen, the Pre-Crime unit prevents a man from killing his wife and her lover. The unit is so successful that the public demands it be expanded from just the Washington D.C. to the rest of the nation. Anderton’s friend and superior Burgess (Max Von Sydow) must yield to an investigation of the unit by the Justice Department headed by Danny Witter (Colin Farrell). Anderton is drawn into events beyond his understanding as Agatha predicts that he will kill a man completely unknown to him in less than 36 hours. Anderton learns that although the pre-cogs are never wrong they sometimes disagree. These dissenting opinions are termed minority reports and set the stage for the concluding act of this mystery.

The particulars of Minority Report require a science fiction aspect to work. It has to be set in the not too distant future for the internal logic of Minority Report to work. What elevates Minority Report beyond a Sci-Fi flick is the attention to the mystery, the story reigns supreme in this tale. This is what I meant by Sci-Fi providing the environment. We have moved on as a collective audience from being satisfied with the environment being the picture. We now demand a human experience driven by a well-crafted story. This is what Minority Report delivers. You sit there accepting the futuristic setting but you are drawn into the life of Anderton in this most critical moment of his life.

In order make Minority Report work the cast has to be up to the challenge. There is no doubt that these professional were capable of the task at hand. Cruise has come a long way from the pretty boy roles that started his career. He has matured into a fine actor able to bring the audience into the world created in Minority Report and care about the character he portrays. He gives Anderton dimension, a man that lost his son to a heinous crime, his wife has left him and now the work that gave him solace is being threatened. Rather than just have his character driven by the immediate peril he shows us that Anderton must also face these demons from his past to survive, Von Sydow shows up in the strangest roles possible. Still, he also delivers a performance that enriches a film. Here, he is mentor and friend to the younger Anderton yet there is something beneath the surface. He plays the role of Burgess close to the vest, giving the audience a taste of what is to come without ever tipping his hand. Such control is magnificent to watch. Farrell starts out as the typical bureaucrat but he also is able to take the role in unexpected directions. The breakout performance here is with Morton. For such a young actress she shows amazing depth and command of her performance. While most of her work is with period pieces set in the past she is able to bring a touch of humanity to the pre-cogs. This is vital to the film, to secure a connection between these mystical beings and the audience.

Spielberg seems to treat Minority Report as more of an homage to his friend and mentor Stanley Kubrick that his A.I. There is much in Minority Report that seems touched by Kubrick while retaining the magic and precision that heralds a Spielberg opus. Among the many nods to Kubrick in the film are little things like the name Burgess, the author of a Clockwork Orange and the eye-opening medical procedure that also harkens back to that film. Here, Spielberg seamlessly blends the computer-generated effects with the action and story. Rather than hitting the audience over the head with spectacular effects they appear natural within the context of the setting. Rather than driving the story the effects here where used to increase the audience’s belief in the setting.

Minority Report is visually stunning. Spielberg relies on his skill as a director not the talents of the CGI techs behind the scenes. He alters the perception of reality by pushing the contrast up to heighten the sense of reality. He fully saturates the color in drug-induced memories and plays with the color pallet to argument the mood of the scene.

The disc itself is near reference quality. There is less difference between the Dolby 5.1 and DTS tracks than typical. Both provide a rich, full soundstage that fires all speakers perfectly. The 2.39:1 anamorphic video is crisp and clear, able to present the varied visual affects and details without flaw. There is a second disc provided that gives the audience a full view of the making of this new classic. All aspects of the production are covered in full detail. Featurettes cover the stunts, costumes and set design in the tiniest details. This disc provides an advanced course in modern film production. There is even a nice forum with Spielberg and Cruise that I greatly enjoyed. Minority Report is a disc that will entertain for many hours, each and every time you place it in your DVD player.

Review by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com

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