June 21, 2002
Minority Report is the long-rumored science fiction project which merges some of the greatest talents in cinema today. The director of this project is arguably the biggest of his generation, Steven Spielberg. Critically successful to the highest level, with best director awards for his efforts on Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List, in addition to four other nominations, he is without question the director in Hollywood whose name significantly adds something to the marquee value of a production. Any title with him on board is immediately escalated to blockbuster status, but Minority Report has much, much more going for it.
This film is headlined by arguably the biggest draw in the movie industry today, Tom Cruise, a man with no fewer than eight films which have made more than $100 million in domestic receipts. The star of nearly two decades of blockbusters such as Top Gun, Mission Impossible I/II, The Firm and Interview with the Vampire has demonstrated an ability to make a blockbuster out of any style of film. He also has shown a desire to perform for the finest directors of his generation, as his work with Spielberg follows the recent list of John Woo, Stanley Kubrick, Cameron Crowe, Paul Thomas Anderson, Brian De Palma, Neil Jordan, Sydney Pollack and Rob Reiner. This group of project helmers reads very much like a roll call of the best directors of Tom Cruise's era, so the decision to work with Spielberg is not at all surprising. It certainly does add an element of expectation to the overall product, though. This is probably the most impressive combination of director and star since Spielberg worked with Tom Hanks on Saving Private Ryan, an award-winning project which also banked $216 million in domestic receipts, making it the most successful film of 1998. This only enhances the point that, on paper, Minority Report looks huge.
The cast is an unusual blend of up-and-coming talents such as Colin Farrell, who is most notable for his work in Tigerland and is the current It hire in Hollywood, with additional lead roles in the recent Bruce Willis epic, Hart's War, and the upcoming projects Phone Booth and The Recruit. He is poised to be the breakthrough talent of 2002 with these four projects. Samantha Morton, the scene-stealing actress who played Michelle in Jesus' Son, is cast alongside Kathryn Morris (The Contender) as the two young female leads in the movie, but the real coup here is the presence of Meryl Streep (!) in a small role. As if the names I'm throwing out weren't enough to make this a must-see project, also sprinkled in are the always-fantastic Peter Stormare (Chocolat), the venerable Max von Sydow, and Emmy-nominated Steve Harris of The Practice. If Minority Report fails, it won't be due to a lack of talent. On an interesting side-note, von Sydow and Stormare, who are both Swedes by birth, will actually perform a lot of their dialogue in their native language.
The script is based upon an idea from the legendary Philip K. Dick, who has previously had movies such as Blade Runner and Total Recall created using his unusual ideas as the foundation. The project has had its share of bad buzz, due to the numerous delays in the start of production. Matt Damon was originally tapped to portray the role now handled by Farrell, but Spielberg's decision to shoot AI ahead of Minority Report forced him to drop out. Cate Blanchett's part went to Morton for the same reason.
With regards to the actual storyline of the film, the plot is shrouded in secrecy. What is known is that thought police are the enforcers of the late 21st century. They have the ability to know of a criminal act before it is committed, making it a mind crime, so to speak. Cruise's character is a police officer named John Anderton who finds himself wanted by the law for something he hasn't even done yet. Farrell's character, Ed Witwer, is the person charged with pursuing Anderton and bringing him in to justice. Other than that, most of the speculation involves the short story and it's still unclear just how much the movie uses it as a point of reference. We're basically all flying blind.
An area of concern is that AI was not exactly a blockbuster, and wagging tongues gleefully noted that Harry Potter would have been a much better career move for Mr. Spielberg. Time will eventually decide the validity of this statement, as rumors still indicate he'll helm one of the Potter films, so doing AI might be remembered more warmly in later years than it is today. Under any circumstance, having two unsuccessful films in a row would be completely unprecedented for the director, the combination of Hook and Always being the closest he's had as of yet; furthermore, Cruise is as bulletproof as an actor can be. The only battle Minority Report will face involves killer expectations the likes of which have recently sunk projects such as Pearl Harbor and Godzilla. One is an actual bomb, while the other is simply remembered that way. There is always a pressure that comes with lofty expectations. (David Mumpower/BOP)
June 16, 2002
After four years of starts and stops, casting changes, and rumors aplenty, Minority Report is finally poised to enter theaters this Friday. The marketing campaign for it has followed the pattern of Spielberg's last film, A.I., by emphasizing the unique concept of the movie in an attempt to create Blair Witch-esque online buzz. The perfect example of this may be found at PreCrime.org. Dreamworks is banking on the fact that this advertising campaign will be much more successful the second time around.
With Scooby Doo's spectacular opening weekend paving the way, expectations are now that much higher for the box office performance of Tom Cruise's first action film in over two years. The commercials proudly emphasize a gritty, Blade Runner update with shades of The Fugitive driving the storyline. The combination appeal should fly Minority Report into the box office stratosphere. It is poised to compete with Scooby-Doo, Lilo and Stitch and Men In Black II for the title of biggest summer film. (David Mumpower/BOP)