Minority Report Review

Futuristic technology that can predict crimes before they happen is no new inspiration for film. Demolition Man did it, sort of. Freezing criminals, travelling back and forth in time to arrest them and slap them in a cryo tank to keep them rested, Steven Spielberg’s science-fiction piece from the turn of the new century certainly has smatterings of that Sylvester Stallone-led feature. Thankfully Minority Report manages to slice out the 1990s influence and the heavy new wave of bright colours and wildcard populism that oozed its way through the Wesley Snipes performance of old. Tom Cruise wouldn’t stand for that, the no-nonsense leading man at the heart of Minority Report is a good example of how dated science fiction can act and feel quite homely.

None of Minority Report is particularly incredible, but it is the simplicity and effectiveness of it that Spielberg gets right. His influence over the science-fiction genre and where it was headed can be felt, more because Philip K. Dick is guiding the cast and crew, rather than anything Spielberg can offer the genre. The usual tomfoolery of the tech-noir subgenre, and what fun it is. Cruise, by now a seasoned leading man and more than capable of holding his own as an action lead, makes easy work of Minority Report. There are renditions within that are beyond the pale of setting and creativity. Take any scene with Peter Stormare and there lies exactly what Spielberg wishes to discuss with this Dick adaptation.

Stormare makes for a surprising cornerstone of this feature, the crux of Chief John Anderton’s rise and fall, the real change for the character. He is the point of no return, and as an embodiment of that, Stormare is a natural. Along for the ride also are Colin Farrell who manages to crank up the sleaze and Max von Sydow, whose old hand at the tiller is always a comfort, even when it is for features like Branded. Spielberg knows how valuable a face he makes, and with Minority Report the values of Dick and the adaptive process are both respectful of the meaning but expand on it too. Spielberg still feels as though he is on thin ice, inches away from wading the murky waters of generally disturbed but underwhelming science-fiction. He avoids that with Cruise’s leading performance, the sheen that comes from the early 2000s genre-bending features and the rustic, decrepit aesthetic they manage to set.

It is not all success, naturally. Minority Report is a strong popcorn feature with plenty of action, high-octane chases and a simplification of thought police, the capitalisation of order and all the usual fears of the dystopia masquerading as a safe and sound world. What if there were a mistake, what if the man in charge of responsibility is then thrown out as a degenerate he tries to defend people from? That is an expansive thought to have, Cruise and company are game to explore that, but Spielberg marches on with that elusive ability. He has always been a broad director, an interesting one too. Minority Report needs a little more guidance from him, to collate the meaning with the action, and certainly to make sense of that weird liquid coma pool.

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