It's the year 2054 and in Washington DC a test programme has been underway for the past six years during which a trio of "precognitives" predict murders that are about to take place, allowing officers of the "Precrime Unit" to interrupt the killing. There hasn't been a murder in Washington for six years, and the programme is about to go national. The head cop is Anderton (Cruise), whose DA father-in-law (Von Sydow) is basking in the glory. But before it can go national, an investigator (Farrell) shows up to see how it works. Then things Anderton himself is named as a future murderer. So he goes on the run with one of the precogs (Morton) to prove his innocence.
This only describes the basic backbone of the story; there are subplots spinning out all over the place--back stories, sidetrips full of colourful characters and, most of all, twists and turns that keep shifting the story's direction for the full two and a half hours. And it's all edge-of-your-seat stuff too (so use the loo before it starts)! Janusz Kaminski's cinematography is mesmerising; the washed out glariness accents the high-tech futuristic gimmickry and makes the special effects perfectly seamless (although product placement levels are ludicrously high). And Spielberg knows how to tell a story, getting solid performances from his cast that make full use of tiny character details and hint at more besides. It's never annoyingly obvious, there's a blast of fresh humour from start to finish, and the interpersonal drama is nicely understated and all the more believable for it. And it's a seriously grown-up film too, only barely avoiding some real grisliness to leave it in our minds where it's that much more vivid. Quite simply, this is one of those rare blockbusters that satisfies both in its big spectacle and in the small, intimate moments.
dir Steven Spielberg|
scr Scott Frank, Jon Cohen
with Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow, Steve Harris, Neal McDonough, Jessica Capshaw, Patrick Kilpatrick, Kathryn Morris, Daniel London, Tim Blake Nelson, Peter Stormare, Lois Smith, Spencer Treat Clark, Jessica Harper, Arye Gross
release US 21.Jun.02; UK 4.Jul.02
Ooh cool! Cruise, McDonough and Farrell look at whizzy video clip images projected into clear glass screens...
"There has been a lot of hype about this movie - and based on the trailers I was not so sure I wanted to even see it. But the trailers barely reveal what the movie is really about. It is in the future, and someone decides that it is better to prevent murder before it happens. Our legal systems dictates that one is innocent until proven guilty - but here they have some psychics, called 'precogs', who forsee murders, enabling a special task force to go and catch the murderer before he does anything. Personally, I have a problem with this - someone reading my mind. What I think I might do, what I want to do and what I actually do are often not the same thing. And how can I be put in jail for thinking or feeling like murdering someone, when I haven't actually done it? However, in this movie it seems to be working, until one of the agents (Cruise) is about to be arrested for murdering someone he doesn't even know. So there is a flaw! This is a good movie. It is more a mystery: Who will benefit from keeping the program going? And could the wrong person still be jailed for a murder he really didn't commit? I also like how it makes you think - is it a good idea to arrest someone for thinking of murder? Or should we stick to 'innocent until proven guilty'? This movie does make one ponder the possibilities." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 11.Jul.02
"A thoughtful, and involving actioner/sci-fi adventure. The special effects are great; the action sequences, although exciting, don't seem to belong in this film, and the viewer may get the feeling that they were only included to make the film more appealing to the mass audience, and they aren't really necessary. What really sets this one apart from most others in the genre is the plot, which has more surprises and interesting details up its sleeve than the viewer is likely to expect. It's a long film but never tedious and very satisfying and rewarding." --Jeff Greenhalgh, Bolton UK 26.Oct.02