Glad to ‘Report’ that ‘Minority’ fascinating

Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell in Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report.”

It’s doubtful that there’s anyone who watches television or looks at the covers of magazines that doesn’t know who Tom Cruise is; and even people who are not movie fans know that Steven Spielberg is a film director.

So teaming up two of the biggest names in movies seems like a match guaranteed to please. It sure pleased me, but I also recognize that “Minority Report” might not be to everyone’s liking. It’s dark, it’s creepy, it’s thought provoking and it’s near genius filmmaking.

I look forward to seeing it again, but a friend who attended the screening with me thought “Minority” was long and somewhat boring. What does she know? She’s barely a movie fan. She predicts it will only do fair at the box office – bang up to begin, then petering out – she might be right abut that, but in the long run, I predict it will be considered a great movie.

One thing my movie-going friend is right about, “Minority Report” is better than Spielberg’s last film “A.I.” There are some similarities: manly a bleak future where trying to hide from the authorities is quite difficult.

“Minority” is a tighter film with an even pace and a clear message about power and the abuse of power in the guise of helping prevent crime. This is a timely message as we try to battle terrorists in this country. Do civil rights matter if you’re fighting terrorists?

You will probably laugh at the scenes in a mall in which signs recognize shoppers because it is funny, but it’s also, sadly, too close to the direction we are going in marketing to individuals.

Big Brother is watching. “Minority Report” is also reminiscent of “Gattaca,” “Blade Runner” and too many other movies to mention. There’s even a little Alfred Hitchcock thing going on here. “Minority Report” is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick.

“Minority” grabs you from the opening scene where Cruise manipulates a large clear computer screen (by waving his hands) in order to investigate a murder before it takes place and then goes into his best “Mission Impossible” mode to actually catch the future killer just in the nick of time.

There are judges involved during the investigation process so that once you are actually caught but before you commit the crime you have also been tried and hauled away to a high tech prison. Everything is high tech because the action takes place in 2054.

Cars don’t yet fly, but the autos of the future are different in very cool ways. The transportation methods and robotic spiders that read a person’s pupils make the movie worth watching to say nothing of the twists and turns, unique chases and perfect composition of shots by Spielberg.

Cruise is Chief John Anderton the top cop in the Pre-Crimes unit of Justice Department. Three “Pre-Cogs” have the ability to see future murders. They are wired so the Pre-Crime cops can see what the “Pre-Cogs” see and when balls start rolling with the victim and the perpetrators names on them the police jump into action to stop the murder before it happens.

They are so successful that there are no more murders in the Washington, D.C. area. John is one of the Pre-Crime method of prevention’s biggest supporters and pushes for it to go national until it pegs him as a future murderer.

What! How could that be? He doesn’t even know the guy he’s going to murder in a few days. John’s a good guy – he wouldn’t kill anybody.

Sure he has flaws, he may even break the law, but we understand why; he lost his only son a few years back and just can’t get over the tragedy, but he wouldn’t kill anybody – or would he?

Part of what makes the movie so great is that Spielberg lets the audience think we are being clever in figuring out what is going to happen next.

We all like to think we’re as smart as the movie so he rewards us by letting us be correct sometimes – then presto-chango Spielberg goes a different way.
Not that there’s anything really challenging to figure out. “Memento” it’s not. Spielberg does play fair and there are only a few holes in the plot.
The cast is more than adequate all the way around. Cruise is maturing quite well in form and acting ability. Nearly up to his par is Colin Farrell, whose talents are very promising and whose good looks can’t hide behind the bushy mustache as he shows his stuff as a hotshot investigator who may be a bad guy. You might remember him as the green lawyer in “Hart’s War.”

Max Von Sydow is excellent as the co-founder of the Pre-Crime unit. I would not even know where to begin listing his great roles.

Rated-PG-13 for violence, brief language, some sexuality and drug content