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"Minority Report"

Directed by Steven Spielberg.
Written by Scott Frank and Jon Cohen.  Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. 
Starring Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Neal McDonough and Max Von Sydow.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  6/23/02 


Cruise + Spielberg = A match made in heaven, right?  Well, after Cruise’s so-so “Vanilla Sky” and Spielberg’s so-so “A.I.”, that might not be the case.

But, despite their recent track record, both men seem to be back on track with the sci-fi thriller “Minority Report.”  This time around, Cruise plays Det. John Anderton, a DC police officer that works for Precrime, a division of the DCPD that fights crime before it happens thanks to some nifty technology in the year 2054.  Using three psychics known as the Pre-Cognitives, the Precrime Unit shows up at future crime scenes right before murders, rapes and suicides take place, and in the six years that the Unit has existed, there has never been a murder in death-rich Washington.  But, the division’s 1,109th case has a pretty intriguing suspect:  Anderton himself, and predictably, he tries to run from the very unit that he works for because the Pre-Cogs think that he will kill a man he doesn’t know in just 36 hours.

You know most of this by watching the trailer.  But, thankfully, “Minority Report” is one of the few trailers that doesn’t give away what happens in the second half of the film...and, what does happen is good, twisty sci-fi cinema.  Cruise and his fellow supporting actors (including Max Von Sydow and Colin Farrell, from this spring’s “Hart’s War”) are upended by the ridiculous amount of computer animation that Spielberg is now employing with a bit of out-of-control abandon; paired with “A.I.”, one wonders if there are any shots in his last two films that DIDN’T have to be shot in front of a blue screen.  It mostly works, as he shows us a Washington of the near-future, with talking billboards, auto-pilot transmission on new Lexus automobiles, futuristic weapons and a laser-eye surgery that...well, that might be giving a bit too much away.  Some movies of late have gone overboard with product placement (for instance, “Spider-Man” comes to mind), but in “Minority Report”, it is used to ingenious effect, especially with the billboard sequence where our world of retail has gone overboard.

The film is very strong, with its length being the biggest issue; at 150 minutes, it feels long because it IS too long.  Also, the film’s violence and a brief scene of sexuality seem out of place in a PG-13 film; I thought that Spielberg would have been better served had he just decided to go ahead and try to achieve an R rating, since kids aren’t going to even want to see this film.  There are a couple scenes in the second half of the film that deal with how Anderton enters a federal building that just don’t belong here, and I could hear the gags all over the theater when the sequence took place.

My biggest concern with “Minority Report”, being a former DC resident, was with the height of the buildings in a DC that is only 50 years from now.  Why?  THERE WILL NEVER BE APARTMENT BUILDINGS HIGHER THAN THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT!!!!!!!!!  In the film, it seems like Anderton’s home and every other building in the city are taller than the government buildings, which currently would be illegal.  Come on, man!!  And, cops with jetpacks??  Everyone knows that the DCPD budget is abysmal; that’s why cops are always crying about having shitty police cars, pop shooters instead of Glocks, and those large cell phones from movies like “Wall Street” instead of sleeker Startac phones.  Are you trying to tell me that now, in the year 2054, the DC government has such a surplus of cash that they can put a jetpack on the back of every single officer in the Precrime Unit?  Nuh-uh!

But, that’s being picky.  “Minority Report” reaches expectations nicely, and it keeps you thinking right up until the end.

Rating:  $9.00 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09