Minority Report

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By Mark Ramsey | 2002/06/20

After Minority Report, see if you don’t agree with me: Tom Cruise looks good in anything – except a helmet.

It’s 2054 and three “pre-cogs” float in a pool like Esther Williams in an MGM musical. In a trance, they visualize brutal murders before the fact while the cops watch these visions on a big IMAX screen with The Little Mermaid XXIV.

But the details are fuzzy. Evidently, these pre-cognitive dreams are replayed through a lens coated with Vaseline and presented in a slam-cut style so reminiscent of music videos, the victims should be wearing bling-bling and dancing with hoochie mamas.

minorityreport_spielbergchase.jpgThe names of both killer and victim are mechanically carved onto billiard balls which swirl around a track, popping out at the bottom as if a tiny bowler is waiting. In a future where vehicles travel both vertically and horizontally and where pre-crime cops zip around on jet-packs like flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz you’d think technology would progress past racking up the usual suspects for some perpetrator pool. Couldn’t the names simply flash on a screen? Should cops carry guns or pool cues? Crime of passion in the corner pocket!

Once the little pool balls are out, it’s time for Tom Cruise to fondle them. Then, he swoops into action by conducting the crime’s case file on a Plexiglas screen like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. This is called “scrubbing the image” and it means future cops will spend as much time editing digital video as fighting crime.

There is something fundamentally funny about Tom waving his arms around to conduct crime scene images with that mock-serious expression of his. Poor Tom. It’s tough when folks are more interested in what’s on your teeth than what comes out of your mouth.

All goes well until Tom’s balls pop out. Is this a setup or just a gratuitous mental image? Who’s out to get him, anyway?

Tom is running for his life, and he must hide his identity. Before injecting himself with a substance that stretches his face into Robert DeNiro’s face, he must first have his eyes replaced.

That’s right! By a scurvy, back-alley quack and his assistant, a woman with a Manhattan-sized mole over her lip that sprouts hairs so long they could fly kites in a stiff wind. Wow! When did Steven Spielberg become Mel Brooks?

minorityreport_exorcist.jpg

Fifty-two years hence The Gap is still open and Planet Hollywood is still closed. Stroll the street if you dare, but look out for those traveling billboards – they stick to you like orthodontia to Tom’s smile! They know who you are better than most of your relatives do. It’s not paparazzi, it’s paperadzi!

When bad guys are captured, they end up immobilized in a vast room full of cylinder-encased bodies, suspiciously resembling Oscar statuettes. “I feel a Bruce Vilanch one-liner coming on,” warns Tom.

When it comes to movies, my wife is a pre-cog. She always knows the future – it’s uncanny. “What’s going to happen?” I asked her as the climax approached. “Do you really want to know?” she replied. And she meant it!

Minority Report is one part sci-fi thriller, one part murder mystery, all parts Steven Spielberg. It’s a splashy, trashy, whiz-bang suspense yarn that will make the hairs on your hairs stand on end. And the hairs on your moles, too.

Humans are once again the weak link in the future’s endless possibilities. And no matter how sure your destiny, you always have the power to choose.

Take that, Miss Cleo!


Photos Copyright ©2002 20th Century Fox

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