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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
Minority Report cruises ahead
Tom Cruise plays cop, John Anderton
Tom Cruise is on fine form in Minority Report

Something strange has happened to this summer's crop of blockbusters.

For many seasons now big-budget "event" movies seem to have relied solely upon their stunning visuals at the expense of such trifles as a coherent plot, intelligent script or rounded characters.

But this year, things seem to be very different.

Tom Cruise
Cruise is in his elements
Spiderman, for example, offers more than mere effects, as does Attack Of The Clones.

And now we have Minority Report - which combines awesome visuals with its tangled, gripping plot to such winning effect that it might just emerge as the best film of the summer so far.

Of course a film starring Tom Cruise, directed by Steven Spielberg, and based on a short story by Philip K Dick (whose prose also inspired Blade Runner) was always going to have something going for it.

Spielberg may still be on the rebound from the merciless critics who attacked his previous future vision in AI but Minority Report works far better.

It might look like a sci-fi picture but thanks to its non-stop, breathless cavalcade of action set-pieces its appeal stretches far beyond just that genre.

Tom Cruise and Samantha Morton
Samantha Morton is a "pre-cog" who can predict murders
Here, Cruise is John Anderton, a brilliant cop working in the police force's new "pre-crime" division.

Thanks to the wonders of future technology, it allows murders to be pre-empted before they are committed, so the would-be killer can be arrested before the crime is committed.

However, when Anderton sees a future vision of himself committing a murder, he becomes number one suspect in a crime which has yet to take place, and finds himself on the run and struggling to clear his name before the time of the would-be murder.

All of which sounds simple enough but is further complicated by a string of twists involving the disappearance of his son some years back, and an unsolved murder from the past - to say nothing of the lengths Anderton is forced to go to in order to prove his innocence.

Colin Farrell
Irish actor Colin Farrell is Cruise's right-hand man
From the lengthy opening sequence in which the pre-crime division go about preventing a murder, this is genuine edge-of-the-seat stuff tempered with a healthy dose of dark humour.

Spielberg has fun with a spin on advertising and shopping of the future (your local branch of Gap could also look like this in 40 years' time.)

There is also a cringe-inducing optical surgery sequence which is as amusing as it is unpleasant.

Cruise is on top form here, and there is nice work from Irish actor Colin Farrell as his right-hand man, and Samantha Morton as the android-like "pre-cog" who predicts future murders and might just hold the key to Anderton's innocence.

But Spielberg's direction is masterly, making this a breathless thrill-ride from start to finish.

And despite padding out the action to a buttock-numbing running time with some unnecessary sentimental nonsense about Anderton's estranged family, he reminds us that few living directors can spin an escapist yarn quite as well as he does.

Minority Report goes on general release from 4 July.

Minority Report
Watch the trailer
See also:

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