”Minority Report” (opening June 21) is this movie season’s biggest all-star game, teaming Hollywood’s most commercially successful director (20 films over 30 years, grossing a total of $2.8 billion domestically) with one of its most bankable stars (23 films, $2 billion). ”How are we marketing it?” chuckles Tom Rothman, chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment. ”It’s Cruise and Spielberg. What else do we need to do?”
Actually, ”Minority Report” may require more finesse than that. Based on a 1956 short story by the notoriously trippy Philip K. Dick (whose work also inspired ”Blade Runner” and ”Total Recall”), this is serious science fiction, a dark, sometimes violent contemplation of a future in which cars have minds of their own, breakfast cereals are packaged in annoying animated boxes, and privacy is so scarce you can’t even walk into a Gap without running into a billboard that knows your name and underwear size.
It’s also a future in which Cruise’s character, Paul Anderton, heads an experimental police squad called Precrime. Tapping into the dreams of a trio of medically mutated psychics, Anderton zips around Washington, D.C., in a jet pack, popping in on people just before they’re destined to commit their crimes. All that changes when the ”precogs” predict his own murderous future and he becomes a fugitive (chased mostly by ”Hart’s War”’s Colin Farrell). ”A whodunit before hedidit” is how Rothman describes the movie.
Cruise, for one, is convinced there’s room at the multiplex for a $100 million summer sci-fi thriller aimed at grown-ups, especially one loaded with special effects (like retina-scanning robot spiders) and directed by the guy who all but invented the event movie with a little fishing tale called ”Jaws.” ”It’s a complex story about where our society is going, about what the world will be like in 50 years,” Cruise offers.