Dir: Steven Spielberg
Star: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Max Von Sydow, Samantha Morton
Set in what is certainly one of the most impressively complex future worlds ever dreamt up, Spielberg delivers something that flirts with perfection but in the end has to settle for being very good. In the future, murderers get caught before the act, thanks to the pre-cogs, a trio of sensitives, floating in a tank, who can sense imminent killings. Which is fine until they see detective Anderton (Cruise) blasting a man through a window. This all takes a little longer to lay out than I’d like, since Spielberg is a little too lingeringly impressed with the gee-whizzery of the future. Then there’s the painfully obvious product placement: yes, commercials will likely be everywhere in 50 years, it doesn’t mean we need to see ten of them.
However, the acting is solid and better. Never really liked Cruise much, but he’s inoffensive here; Farrell, playing an FBI operative looking into the system with a view to expansion, is in many ways more interesting. Von Sydow, as the head of the project, is serious and severe, while Morton does what she can as lead pre-cog Agatha, a role largely limited to floating in a pool and hanging off the hero’s shoulder. She does bring about another standout sequence where she helps Anderton escape by dictating his every move, having seen it all happen.
This middle section, after Anderton starts running, is phenomenal. Apart from one glaring mis-step necessary to the plot [even though he’s wanted for murder, they don’t revoke his security clearance], it’s an hour when you’ll become very familiar with the edge of your seat. The pacing is great, with set-pieces such as a blind Anderton trying to evade robotic hunter spiders, alternating with slower sections that advance the plot – Lois Smith is fabulous as the creator of the pre-cog system (at one point, it was to be Meryl Streep!), who tacitly assists Anderton to undermine it. Once this section ends, with Cruise finally meeting the man he’s been predicted to kill, the movie tails off. Though it’s gratifying that Spielberg wants every loose end cleaned up, sitting there watching him tie the bows is about the least interesting thing in the film.