Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max Von Sydow
Washington, 2054: A
policeman finds himself framed for a murder he has yet to commit.
Report is set in Washington, in 2054, where the crime of murder has been
virtually eradicated, thanks to the Precrime project. The police have
harnessed three supernaturally-gifted humans, the pre-cognitives
("pre-cogs"), who are
able to predict crimes where traumatic violence will be used. Now
potential murderers are arrested and convicted before they are able to
harm their intended victims. Of course, this raises some important moral
and ethical questions (not to mention the paradoxes that their
intervention might cause!)
Leading the project's
lengthy trial period is
Director Lamar Burgess (Von Sydow), grooming his protégée, Detective
John Anderton (Cruise), to take charge as the pilot is rolled out to the
rest of the country. Anderton is a flawed character, however, addicted to
the illegal drugs he uses to obliterate the loss and guilt he feels for
his child, who was abducted in a moment of inattentiveness. The Precrime
operation is not without its detractors, however, and the Attorney General
has appointed a determined young investigator, Detective Danny Witwer
(Farrell). who seems to instinctively sense Anderton's weakness, and the
fundamental flaws in the system that have, until now, been kept hidden. On the eve of a crucial public
vote on the Precrime plan Anderton is confronted with a pre-cog vision
which shows him killing a man he has never heard of, forcing him to flee
from Witwer and his former colleagues in a desperate attempt to clear his name.
Spielberg has brought us a prediction of the future before, (in 2001's
remarkable A.I. - Artificial Intelligence),
but that was just a hint of the startling, bleak vision of 2054 he offers
in Minority Report. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick (the
author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the book that was
adapted on film as Blade Runner), and co-written by Scott Frank
(scriptwriter of Steven Soderbergh's terrific pulp thriller Out of
Sight), the film has an impressive pedigree. Every department excels:
the rousing score is by Spielberg's regular collaborator John Williams;
the film's stark, edgy cinematography is by another Spielberg veteran,
Janusz Kaminski, and the knockout special effects were supervised by
Michael Lantieri, who was responsible for effects in
Jurassic Park, A.I.
- Artificial Intelligence, The Sixth Day
and Mars Attacks!
populated his film with some heavyweight acting talent, too, coaxing more
from Cruise than you'd expect, and drawing a typically powerful
performance from Samantha Morton, (who plays the key pre-cognitive, Agatha).
There are also memorable roles for Colin Farrell (bold and aggressive, as
the film's token villain) and for Max Von Sydow, who gives his role as
head of the Precrime project a paternal spin.
film effortlessly combines two quite distinct genres. This isn't a film like Outland,
whose science-fiction setting was almost completely incidental to
the western-like plot. It's closest relation would be Blade Runner,
but Spielberg's version of the future is as distinctive as anything Ridley
Scott devised for that film, or Alien, for that matter. Spielberg's Washington offers a
stark contrast between a steely, clinical, technology-infused environment,
with the grotty slum areas known as "the sprawl". In the more affluent
districts every spare square foot is employed by advertisers (given the
genre's patchy record at predicting the success of commercial brands, it's a little surprising to see
companies and products like Gap, Burger King and Guinness are apparently still
thriving, and ubiquitous. In the city's underbelly, the tones are predominantly earthy,
and grime is the only constant.
try and quell any doubts here: Minority Report has been given an
exceptional transfer to disc, which accurately captures the grit,
graininess and harsh contrasts of the film, exactly as it appeared in
cinemas. The film was shot on the Super 35 format, and printed using the
bleach-bypass system (the process popularised by David Fincher, who used
it for Se7en). There are scenes where grain is very noticeable, or where the image
becomes so de-saturated as to almost appear black and white, or where
foreground objects are so quickly swallowed up into pools of darkness that
you'd think the film was lit by candle-light. That's how it's meant to
look. The disc is presented in 2.35:1 ratio, with anamorphic enhancement.
The average bitrate is 6.44mbps.
are no problems with the audio, either. There are two 5.1 mixes on offer,
a Dolby Digital mix (at 448kbps), and a DTS mix (at 768kbps). Both
versions offers a rich audio mix that will completely immerse the viewer,
but the DTS track has the edge, offering superior ambience and more
pronounced separation. There are several outstanding sequences, including
a chase through a car factory, and plenty of scenes that will give
subwoofers a good rattle!.
All the extras have
been placed on the second disc (as usual with a Spielberg film, there's no
commentary track). The supplements have been grouped into six
sections, and within each section there are several short featurettes.
Navigating through them is a bit of a trial, since each one must be
accessed separately (there's no "Play All") option. This isn't
too irksome when the featurettes are about ten minutes long (in the From
Story To Screen section, for example), but when each segment is about
three minutes long (The Stunts of Minority Report and the ILM
and Minority Report sections) your concentration and the mood are
The six main sections
FROM STORY TO SCREEN
[Total duration: 18m]
This section is
divided into two segments: The Story / The Debate (looking at the
moral implications of the Precrime premise, and explaining the basic
framework of the film, and the filmmaker's approach to the material) and The
Players (short interviews and profiles of the main supporting
characters, and an exploration of the relationships between them).
WORLD OF MINORITY REPORT
[Total duration: 33m]
comprehensive guide to the film, divided into The World of Minority
Report [An Introduction]; Precrime and Precogs (featuring the
stunning work of Production Designer Alex McDowell, focusing on the film's
elaborate tech and architecture); The Spyder Sequence (which not
only examines the creation of the little robot spiders that who are
dispatched to hunt John Anderton, but also the complex camera setup used
to track them through the tenement building); Precog Visions (the
work of titles company Imaginary Forces, who created the elliptical
visions experienced by the three precognitives); and Vehicles [of the
Future], a look at the mag-lev (magnetic-levitation) cars, and the
police's flying troop carrier.
THE STUNTS OF MINORITY
REPORT [Total duration: 8m]
A brief look at three
key sequences from the film: The Mag-Lev Escape, The Hoverpack
Chase and The Car Factory, mainly showing how the film's actors
worked on their own stunts.
ILM AND MINORITY
REPORT [Total duration:
A slew of short
featurettes on various different effects sequences: Intro', Holograms,
Hall of Containment, Mag-Lev, Hovercraft / Hoverpacks and
Cyberparlor (sic). This section is quite fascinating, but rather
skimpy. There also seems to have been little effort to explain to the
layman how things were actually put together, perhaps overestimating the
audience's level of knowledge.
FINAL REPORT: STEVEN
SPIELBERG AND TOM CRUISE [Duration:
A summary from the
film's director and leading man.
away at the end is the gateway to a cornucopia of material: Production
Concepts (a huge gallery of production sketches and photo's), animated
Storyboard Sequences (for the Mag-Lev Sequence, the Alley
Chase and the Car Factory, synchronised with audio from the
film), three theatrical Trailers and an advert for the Activision
computer game based on the movie, text profiles of the cast members,
leading crew members and substantial production notes.
With so much material
on offer, it seems a little curmudgeonly to want more. What's here will
surely satisfy most casual viewers, but the bonus material on offer is
largely superficial, (it's not fluffy promotional stuff, but most of it is
focused on the technical side, and fails to get to the backbone of the
movie). Fans of the film might feel short-changed: for example, there are
no deleted scenes, which is an odd omission for a film this complex. The
disc sorely needed a commentary track or two, to lay the foundations for
all the bonus material. If Spielberg is reluctant to communicate
personally, there are many other voices who could tell the story. Perhaps
he feels that his films speak for him, but viewers might get the
impression that he's a control freak who won't allow his team members
their moment in the spotlight.
Report is unarguably one of the best science fiction movies made in
the last couple of decades, and a very mature offering from a director
often accused of sweetness and sentimentality (the factors that soured A.I.
- Artificial Intelligence for many viewers). The film is a an all too
believable vision of the future, brought to the screen by some extremely
talented artisans. Fox's disc version is fabulous, and almost - almost -
does justice to a wholly remarkable film.