‘Minority Report’ will thrill the majority

By Gus Bode

Starring:Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell and Max Von Sydow

There are popcorn flicks and there are Spielberg movies, and Hollywood stigma will tell us that one automatically implies the other. It’s a misunderstanding if there ever was one.

Anyone looking for evidence need only set their sights on the details that separate the two:the slick and sly second in which a tired Indiana Jones takes out an opponent with a simple pistol shot, or the brutal image of American soldiers retracing their steps on Normandy Beach so they can reclaim their dismembered arms.

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One might even be so bold as to add the image of Tom Cruise blindly chasing his own eyeballs down a dark corridor, only to lose them down a drain.

Let’s go ahead and be bold. Spielberg’s style may have matured since his cutesy days with E.T. and Eliot, but he can still direct the hell out of a good summer blockbuster. Case in point:”Minority Report,” which re-teams the director with his action-adventure roots and throws in a Kubrickian edge just for good measure.

The perplexing plot twists that muddled last year’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” are out the door this time around; instead, we get tightly molded science fiction with incredible intellect, awesome action and amazing production design. This futuristic tale – set in Washington, D.C., in the year 2054 and based on a short story by Philip K. Dick – is made up of glossy sets and sleek designs, a hauntingly sterile mix of blacks and whites that makes the entire product a thrill to look at.

And if nothing else, it gives us more of those wonderful details that can only come from Spielberg’s toolbox. After all, how often does an action hero make an emergency, mid-chase stop at the Gap?

With Cruise in the driver’s seat, anything is possible. Starring as John Anderton, the head of a Washington “pre-crime” agency that, through the help of three psychic “pre-cogs,” can pursue murderers before their crimes are committed, Cruise is at the head of his game. However, troubles come to plague him. When an initiative is launched to nationalize the pre-crime system, Cruise finds himself under the scrutinizing eye of a federal detective (Colin Farrell) looking for flaws in what Cruise calls a “flawless” system. The tension comes to a head when the pre-cogs finger Cruise for murder, sending him on the run and into a frantic game of cat and mouse with Farrell.

Of course, this is the Cliff’s Notes synopsis – the story that ultimately comes out unravels with such complexity that it might require a second viewing. As Cruise’s running picks up speed, so do the details that drive his character:the troubled separation he has experienced with his wife, the guilt he feels over the death of his one son and the conviction that he has been set up from the inside. Similarly, Farrell’s antagonist is no blueprint movie clich, and watching him chase is almost as entertaining as watching Cruise run. Let’s give this guy his own movie soon. He’s got some charisma.

As for the rest of the cast? It’s an eclectic mix of Max Von Sydow, Tim Blake Nelson and even some cameos from Cameron Diaz and Cameron Crowe. As with the rest of the film, these details help make the package. Spielberg has crafted a true winner with “Minority Report,” a film that will surely resonate as one of the better sci-fi flicks made in recent years. Will it snag him another gold statuette? Not a chance. This isn’t the adult Spielberg we’ve been seeing in recent years; this is a return to form for him, a slick action vehicle that, despite its obvious maturity over the likes of Indiana Jones and raving dinosaurs, still shows the man has got style. Yes, Mr. Wunderkind, we’ll happily take your Schindler’s Lists and Private Ryans, but don’t forget about the thing that you do better than anyone else.

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After all, we still need a sharp blockbuster every once in a while. During the summer movie season, it may be the only detail that really counts.

Geoff Ritter can be reached at [email protected]

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