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Minority Report (Blu-ray Review)

19 Apr, 2010 By: Mike Clark

Street 4/20/10
Sci-Fi Action
$29.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, brief language, some sexuality and drug content.
Stars Tom Cruise, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow, Colin Farrell, Neal McDonough, Steve Harris.

Forced to choose between this Philip K. Dick adaptation and Blade Runner, I’d still take the latter, which overcame negative initial reviews as much as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining did to take its place as one of the premier movies of the early 1980s. Yet Steven Spielberg’s kinetic take on the “police procedural” is still a dandy that shows (like another recent Blu-ray release, Collateral) how good an actor Tom Cruise can be for any objective mind that can extricate him from all the distracting real-life stuff that often prompts eye-rolls.

The year is 2054, and among the many things we learn, USA Today still exists, and people continue to have discussions about the Mets pitching. The big story, though, is the controversial but successful six-year try-out in Washington, D.C., of a crime-fighting system that has totally ended murders by first predicting criminal acts and then arresting “pre-felons” — often a couple seconds before the acts are committed. Cruise is a unit chief, and even had his son not been abducted six years earlier in an unsolved case, he’d be a nervous wreck who’s slammed every second from the intensity of his job. The folks at the Department of Pre-Crime do not whistle while they work.

The Blu-ray has a rough, grainy look that I don’t specifically recall from the theatrical version, but my memory could be playing tricks. The other thing that plays with my mind here is seeing Colin Farrell so early in his career — second-billed, in fact — as a professional Cruise nemesis who eventually comes around to agreeing that this near-top cop might have been framed innocent when he, of all people, is pegged a pre-felon himself.

Actually predicting the crimes are three fragile beings with a twisted genesis (called pre-cogs), who are tended to in shallow pools housed in a security-heavy room. The female of this species is played by Samantha Morton, who did not get the supporting actress Oscar nomination I thought she might at the time.

Report runs 2 hours, 25 minutes, but the story zips along and sometimes into interesting by-ways, including a very strong scene between Cruise’s now on-the-run protagonist and the slightly wacky horticulturist who invented the Pre-Crime system. Veteran character actress Lois Smith plays her, and it’s hard to believe it has been 55 years since she, cast as a brothel bargirl, shared that unforgettable scene with James Dean early in East of Eden. (Smith was also memorable – and Oscar-nominated – playing Jack Nicholson’s sister in 1970’s Five Easy Pieces.)

The extras include a newly edited mix of vintage and fresher material; a Spielberg interview shot just as the movie was opening theatrically is linked just a click away to additional illuminative material regarding whatever he’s talking about at the time. You get a real sense here of how much Spielberg thinks things out — as in the choice to set Report in Washington, a city not likely to change its look too much in the next half-century.

The movie has a strong script (Scott Frank, Jon Cohen), which leads to a nice intersection between entertainment and quality, which hasn’t always been the case in with the more recent Spielberg movies. One can make the case that Martin Scorsese slummed a bit with Shutter Island — yet if you add his documentaries to his fictional films, his filmography still packs the element of surprise. But regarding Spielberg, doesn’t it seem that The Terminal, War of the Worlds and the fourth Indy Jones movie have been packed too close together for a director of stature?


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