Minority Report
***.3 GM
Starring: Tom Cruise, Samantha Morton, Colin Farrell, Max Von Sydow, Peter Stormare

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I didn't expect a heck of a lot from this film, since I was still holding a grudge against Tom Cruise for that hunk of crap called "Mission Impossible 2: Mission Impossibler," and I wasn't all that thrilled with the Spielberg ending of "A.I." It felt like an interesting idea was going to be turned into something less than stellar. Then, prior to seeing the flick, I noticed two different four-star reviews of it. This confused me. Isn't this just a sci-fi action thing? How can this rate four stars? Are you seriously saying this thing is Oscar-worthy? (For the purposes of this statement, we'll assume the Oscars represent fair and balanced analysis of quality rather than rewards for politicking and obscenely expensive marketing blitzes.) This, coupled with the news of a teaser for "Daredevil" appearing before this film, gave me a more urgent need to see it.

Turns out to be just a sci-fi action thing, as I'd suspected, based on a cool premise. In 50 years, precognition is discovered, and cops in D.C. test out a new method of crimefighting - stopping it before it happens with the help of three screwed up fortune-tellers kept in a gooey tank of goo. Thom Cruz is, of course, the most kickass of these cops. You may think "how hard is it to just go to a place and stop a crime before it happens?" Ah, but see, they only get visions of the crime and names of people involved - they still need cops to figure out who exactly these people are, and WHERE they are - although you'd think the address locators would be a little more advanced. There's a moment where the whole Precrime Posse has to sit and stare at a row of houses and figure out which one to break into to stop a murder, and finally they figure out that the one with the door open is the one to barge into. They said something about the address they found being an out-of-date one, but c'mon - if they have the killer and the victim's names and the right row of houses, they really should be able to get a correct address, right? It's the future, for chrissakes.

Anyway, Precrime, under the guidance of Max Von Sydow, is a big ol' hoot of a success, despite their haphazard pinpointing methods, and is apparently trying to go national (conveniently disregarding any explanation as to how this will happen with only three precogs working the whole system). This brings the federales in to investigate the system in the form of Colin Farrell, who is instantly combative with Cruise, who believes the system is perfect (which of course means it isn't). This isn't proven to Cruise until he sees a precog vision the next day which shows him icing some dude he doesn't even know, which immediately puts him on the run. Everybody runs, apparently.

The most disturbing aspect of this film is not the 'is it right to put people in suspended unconscious animation forever in response to a crime they never even got the chance to commit in order to create a murderless society' debate, nor is it the 'would you kill one innocent person in order to create said murderless society' question that comes up later. No, the most creepy, frightening thing about this film is the horrifying concept of retina-based individualized public advertising, because that shit is going to happen and it will suck, suck, suck harder than a fission-powered Hoover.

Holy fucking marsupials hooked on the crack, can you imagine how unbelievably horrible it will be when every stupid-assed billboard, poster, sign and bumper sticker you passed called you by name and yelled at you about drinking their awful-ass beer, wearing their shit-ass clothes, purchasing their trinket-ass trinkets and falling in with their dubious-ass marketing schemes? Some holographic Gap twat shouting to the whole store what you bought last time you were there? Imagine if every bit of e-mail spam was some dude running up to you, smacking your head and yelling their entire sales pitch in your ear. There is no delete button, there is no Recycle Bin to empty. Your only recourse will be to dish out savage beatings at each occurrence, and you're likely to be arrested after the third time, and that's not good. THIS IS AN ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE'S WET DREAM, AND IT MUST BE STOPPED AT ALL COSTS.

I AM NOT KIDDING.

As hard as it is to digress from this nightmarish freakshow of a topic, I'll do my best. The film itself was a capable action movie with a neat twist, but it rarely rose above that. It coaxed no real emotional investment out of me, and perhaps that's either because Tom Cruise is incapable of delivering a performance that makes me forget he's Winky McNudge, Snappy Comeback Superstar of the S.S. Dashing Smile, or because I'm incapable of viewing him as anything but that, although I'm not discounting additional possibilities, like the fact that it pulled an "A.I." and tacked on a good-timey epilogue to what could have been a greatly poignant downer ending. The good part, however, is that Cruise tends to make that Captain Smarm character of his somewhat likeable anyway. Colin Farrell is also a big plus, although it's a bit annoying when suddenly, about halfway through the movie, I'm suddenly watching "Attack of the Clones" again with that car-factory fight scene between Farrell and Cruise. That just seemed like a 'let's squeeze an adrenaline-pumping sparring sequence in here somewhere' move. Something also tells me eyeballs wouldn't be quite so "marble-like" in quality, that they'd roll around like that. They're a bit too squishy, don't ya think?

A point in its favor, though, is that people were sick in this movie without it being a significant plot point. THAT seems to be a rare occurrence, and I like that here. Coupled with the huge Carson Daly-lookin' billboard fake clue, it makes for a couple of fun feints to distract the audience a little from figuring it out TOO far ahead of time... although if you couldn't peg Von Sydow as soon as the lady said not to trust him, then you might want to check for a gas leak in your home.

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