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Minority Report

BEAUTIFULLY FILMED, with fabulous possibilities of a future world, some truly heavyweight star power and director — all to go make saying boo to the ``Emperor's New Clothes" very difficult. What with its dazzling visuals of animated cereal boxes, voice activated houses, crystal clear computer monitors and prison cells, billboards and store monitors that make direct advertising pitches, newspapers with moving images, surveillance cameras that scan people's eyes for identification. This is not all! The entire film reflects superb control over proceedings and utter conviction in what has been adapted from sci-fiction writer's original story (Philip K Dick) of a future world, where crime is possibly one of the most virulent forms of pollution. This is a dark thought which has been given much life through the genius of the director (Steven Spielberg), the cinematographer (Janusz Kaminski) and the art director (Alex Mc Dowell) who spare no efforts to make this world as real as possible. Yet it is not a film that will warm the cockles of your heart. Maybe because special effects these days are no longer something one would view with wide-eyed wonder. It's already there and we know that Hollywood is amazingly good at this sort of thing. You might want to ask where is the soul?

It is 2054 and the Washington DC Police Department's Pre-Crime unit is six years old and still going strong. An experimental programme of theirs uses a trio of Pre-Cogs to predict murders before they are committed. These Pre-Cogs are suspended in a solution of chemicals and water in a semi comatose state and are connected to an elaborate machine that presents its visions to the pre crime cops for prevention. Thus armed with jet backs, advanced knowledge and weapons, they head out to the place of murder, swoop down and arrest the wrong-doer before anything happens. As a result of this daring experiment, the Pre Crime Unit is able to eliminate all murders while ignoring the questionable practice of incarcerating people who haven't really done anything -but only thought of it. The possibility of someone being unfairly targeted is blithely ignored, till one day, Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise) sees himself committing a murder, that too of someone he does not even know. Refusing to believe this cloudy pre murder and that he is capable of it, he finds himself on the run — fleeing from his colleagues and a system which is supposed to be fool proof. The crime will take place in 36 hours and on his trail is an ambitious rival, an FBI agent Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell). Are the Pre Cogs and the Pre Crime as infallible as they are made out?

The director and his writers, Scott Frank and Jon Cohen, working from a story by Philip have filled this film with information and incidents. As Anderton flees from place to place looking for answers and explanations, he discovers something called the Minority Report, the name given to those cases where there is some dissent between the three Pre Cogs — where there is no majority rule. This is a world where the notion of reasonable doubt does not carry any weight. Everyone who is apprehended is prosecuted and Anderton learns that his situation has produced one of these Minority Reports. His report has been downloaded onto one of the Pre-Cogs, the most intelligent and astute of them, Agatha (Samantha Morton) and he needs to access this. Soon he is on the path of discovery — a path that explores ideas about preordained things and future, juxtaposed with the ambiguities of a past - including the unsolved disappearance of Anderton's six-year old son to its charmingly utopian end.

Some of the most riveting scenes are that of the extended overhead shot of an apartment complex where spider like robots are let loose to identify Anderton who is hiding by immersing himself in ice water- this sequence which seems like a computer generated visual, is actually a set; the musical like orchestration to bring images on to the flat computer screen, and a sequence in a busy shopping mall with talking, moving advertisements beckoning and luring shoppers!

Cruise as Anderton rides through 20th Century's Minority Report with clarity - he knows he has to transcend his good looks and create a character that threatens to over shadow the proceedings — he is happy changing his looks and even subjects himself to a back alley eye surgery to avoid detection, a scene he handles pretty well.

As for Spielberg, one supposes he cannot resist the small boy visions of a perfect world and happy endings with liberal doses of philosophical musings. Add to this the fact that despite all advances in technology, man continues to remain a being with feelings of hurt, guilt, love and hate. Juxtapose this with his penchant for wizardry in visualisation and you have a product worthy of marketing. But at the end, it's a film that could leave you cold.

CHITRA MAHESH

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