Minority Report combines an elaborate plot you can never really pin down until the very end, loads of summer blockbuster-type action, all sorts of nifty futuristic technologies and special effects, the star power of Tom Cruise, and the direction of Steven Spielberg. Given all that, this movie was virtually guaranteed to please audiences, and it does not disappoint. While the plot is loosely adapted from a short story by Philip K. Dick (who truly belongs in the upper echelon of science fiction writers but is still vastly underappreciated), it does manage to embody much of the sociopolitical questions and concerns related to technological advancement that animated Dick's body of work. In the world of Minority Report, set in 2054, privacy has basically disappeared. Retinal scans trace your every move, your mind is constantly bombarded by customized advertising (it's like having your brain infected by unlimited and infinitely invasive spyware programs), and you can be arrested and put away (in a comatose cocoon) for a crime you did not commit - if you live in Washington, D.C., at least. The experimental precrime unit set up in the nation's capitol six year ago quickly reduced the murder rate to zero, employing a trio of exceptional young people gifted (or cursed, depending on which way you look at it) with an uncanny ability to see murders before they happen - thanks to the milky liquid they lie in, their prevision powers are significantly boosted and translated into electrical data the precrime authorities can view themselves. Detective John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is the lead investigator, and he interprets the signals of the precognitives' visions in order to locate and stop each impending murder before it can happen. Things are going very well - until the federal government sticks their noses into things. A national referendum will soon decide whether precrime will be adopted nationwide, and Anderton finds himself having to deal with an annoying little runt from the Attorney General's office - Danny Witwer, played by a silly-mustachioed Colin Farrel. Anderton and his boss, Lamar Burgess (Max von Sydow) do not want their project turned over to the feds, but things get unimaginably complicated when the precognitives identify Anderton himself as a soon-to-be murderer. Anderton runs, anxious to prove his innocence and desperately anxious to understand what is going on. Convinced he would never murder anyone (especially a predicted victim he has never even heard of), he has to face the troubling fact that the precognitives are never wrong. His friends and coworkers now face the unusual task of going after one of their own, and Anderton proves himself quite difficult to catch.
I thought the ending of the movie was superb; in many ways, Minority Report is a mystery, and the film plays its cards pretty close to the vest up until the final few scenes. If you like action and dazzling special effects, you'll find that here in spades, but those who crave an intelligent story behind all the bells and whistles will be doubly pleased by this film. Apart from the heart of the story itself, Minority Report provides food for thought that you may still be chewing on days later - e.g., the whole privacy issue and the Constitutional implications that, while not really addressed in the film, come across loud and clear; then there's the whole matter of the isolated precognitives, three young people denied a real life in the outside world and forced to live and relive horrifying previsions of murders day in and day out. Tom Cruise turns in another sterling performance, and his character is remarkably human and complex, as the loss of his son six years earlier and the problems he continues to have adjusting to that loss make of him an incredibly human type of hero. I should also mention the fact that the film boasts several very funny scenes, serving to release the viewer's tension momentarily - that's a good thing because things get pretty tense as the story progresses and you'll want to be mentally ready for the twists waiting for you around the final few bends.
The movie itself runs almost two and a half hours, and a second disc features an impressive number of featurettes examining the origins of this first Cruise-Spielberg project, the making of the film, and somewhat technical looks at the special effects that bring the world of 2054 to vivid life on the screen. This all adds up to a DVD that will appeal to almost everyone out there who enjoys good movies.