Minority Report

The Report Report
Guest Review by Mike Flores

Mention the name Philip K. Dick and expectations grow. Add Steven Spielberg and if anything, the expectations may get too big. So I wasn’t prepared to be blown away by a fellow named Janusz Kaminski. From the first frame of Minority Report to the last, cinematographer Kaminski has created a world that I suspect would have made Dick proud. Mr. Kaminski has turned a noir-type science fiction story into a visually stunning achievement and an instant masterpiece. Not one film comes to mind in the last five years with as innovative an eye as we have here.

Of course Psychotronic fans are familiar with Blade Runner, the previous hit film based on the work of science-fiction author Philip K. Dick, a film which has not only stood the test of time but continues to furnish graduate students with thesis material. Blade Runner poses the question: What is a replica and what is the real thing? As people we alienate ourselves from our world in many ways. In Minority Report we are faced with a world where privacy has been given away, not for nefarious Big Brother reasons, but for the sake of marketing. The characters enter stores and their eyes are scanned so that a computer can greet them by name and suggest a purchase. And in the Washington, D.C. of 2054, murder has become a thing of the past as the Justice Department has found a way to stop murders before they happen — and sentences to “containment” the perpetrators-to-be.

Tom Cruise plays obsessed Pre-Crime operative John Anderton, who, driven by grief over the loss of a child years before, is now pouring his life into making his unit go national. Mr. Cruise’s portrayal gets a boost from the washed-out effect on his face throughout the film. His visage nearly drained of color, we know the toll his mission has taken on him. There are so many terrific special effects in this film that work as well; Scott Farrar did some astonishing work. One of my favorite scenes is a car chase — you won’t believe your eyes.

The Pre-Crimers use three psychic beings — “Pre-Cogs” — who float in a tank in a dreamlike state and visualize future murders. They are named Agatha, Dashiell and Arthur (apparently after mystery writers Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammet and Arthur Conan Doyle). One day, to his horror, Anderton sees himself committing a murder of someone he has never met. He has 36 hours to find out why this will happen, and to figure out what his Department of Pre-Crime is really up to. It is a brilliant and astonishing odyssey we go on, which again owes much to the cameraman.

In a just world this film would be looking at least seven Oscars; recall, however, that in the case of Blade Runner the Academy overlooked Harrison Ford for best actor and Ridley Scott for best director. That still makes me mad. I honestly think Minority Report is one of the best science fiction films ever made.

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