Stars: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow, Kathryn Morris
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Scott Frank and Jon Cohen – based on the short story by Philip K. Dick (1956)
Although the premise by visionary Sci-Fi author Philip K. Dick is magnificent – the effect of seeing into the future and arresting people before they can commit a crime – the film suffers from a lousy look. Spielberg wanted it dark. Well thanks to cinematographer Janusz Kaminski’s work, he got it. It’s dark, blurry and grainy to the point of distraction (at least on the big screen).
The story is set in Washington, D.C. and the year is 2054, when a technologically advanced Department of “Precrime” has been established to detect and prevent murders before they’re committed. This neat trick is achieved through the mental gifts of three precognitive mutants, “pre-cogs”, who float in a watery vat with their brains connected to visual scanners that record what they see as future events. In short order, the names of both the perpetrator and the victim are delivered to the duty officers where the details are analyzed via a complex visual computer interface for time and place and then arrest warrants are issued. It’s said the pre-cogs are never wrong. They’ve kept the city safe for six years and what was conceived as a legal experiment is now about to go national with an upcoming vote.
Tom Cruise plays Chief Detective John Anderton, one of the cops on call to arrest potential murderers. Although good at what he does, Anderton is a troubled sort. For the past six years, he’s been plagued with guilt and memories of the kidnapping of his nine year old son Sean, so much so that he regularly indulges in illicit drugs to ease his pain which while repeated videos of happier times. Sean’s disappearance is the reason Anderton joined the Precrime unit, to keep others from suffering such a loss. After the kidnapping, Anderton’s wife Lara (Kathryn Morris) also left him. None of Anderton’s problems has gone unnoticed by unit Director Lamar Burgess (Max von Sydow) who warns Anderton that the Precrime concept is under serious review by the Justice Department and visiting agent Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) who wants to take it over if it goes national.
When Anderton himself is pegged as a potential murderer, he comes to believe that the system is corrupt and he goes about trying to prove his innocence. In that effort, he kidnaps the female pre-cog named Agatha (nicely played by Samantha Morton) and does what any good cop would do, use his formidable skills to run like hell.
Lotta says: The action sequences certainly employ lots of high-tech gadgetry but it’s seems ridiculous, like Anderton jumping from flying cartop to flying cartop and surviving inside a car that is being pounded and riveted into construction around him. There is but one terrific sequence in which Agatha aids Anderton by foreseeing the immediate future and advising him on what to do to elude the cops. It’s well choreographed. Peter Stormare aids to the humor playing a goofy eye surgeon who Anderton uses to escape the many eye scans that threaten to get him captured. In the plus department for visuals: The futuristic cars are great to look at, while the marketing devices of future advertisers are particularly maddening but very clever. Colin Farrell has more sparkle than Cruise as leading man and Samantha Morton as Agatha humanizes the story. Interesting concept.