Steven Spielberg directs Tom Cruise, Samantha Morton and Colin Farrell in this sci-fi chase thriller where a future cop, who solves crimes before they happen using images from psychics brains, finds himself on the run when he is predicted to be a murderer.
Not as spectacular as I remember. A fantastic opening sequence where Cruise manipulates the dream imagery of a flash forward to a crime is the high point. We are right beside the dependable star scanning the Hitchcockian Plus Plus homage to find its location before it occurs. Spielberg shows us the concept with a masterful, playful elan and as a mini-movie in its own right – it is among his best work. The rest of the film is a choppy prestige take on The Fugitive. Cobbled together from set pieces from jobbing writers’ various drafts that are tonally inconsistent and often inconsequential. A barney through a factory is resolved with Cruise slowly gliding out in an automated car, as slowly and as casually as a man turning into a traffic jam. A grim eye transplant set piece where Cruise cannot remove his blindfold for twelve hours, as we and he are warned he will go blind if he does, ends with zero ramifications. This often feels like Spielberg behind the pace… the plot strands tighten together in the strict formation of a Shyamalan narrative rug pull. The mega corporation defined world building has the distinct air of Verhoeven (the earliest drafts of the script were developed as a Total Recall sequel). There’s nothing inherently wrong with Spielberg taking in new influences but he used to set the trends or exist well above them, so it can’t help but feel like a step backwards for the groundbreaking wunderkind to start cribbing from such recent talents. There are positives… the noir-ish elements, a regular respite from the haphazard dash, where Cruise meets a series of ageing suspects to further his investigation are given room to make impact. The finale feels cheekily oblique on rewatch (much like Total Recall… reality is called into question long before the happy ending unspools far too neatly into place). Before production started Spielberg invited a panel of scientists and commentators to suggest the cultural and technological advances we might see in fifty years time. That attention to detail shows throughout. The vision of 2054 is sober and believable, sieved through the emergent security concerns of the early 21st century as much as genre classics that have gone before it. The Gap still exists, Vomsticks are a thing, yoga has evolved nightmarishly. Samantha Morton is memorable as the weird, closeted psychic accuser. Minority Report is a reasonable one watcher made by a craftsman… though the overwhelming brightness of it all is another choice that is quite questionable. Why Janusz Kaminski painfully bathes so many of the settings in almost blinding light is beyond me? Maybe he knows this is a blockbuster that promises a lot but doesn’t warrant looking into for too long. You wouldn’t question someone if they said it was their favourite movie, equally you wouldn’t be surprised if it were a pointless answer on the quiz show Pointless if the category was Tom Cruise or Steven Spielberg movies.
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