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Minority Report

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Completed the same month Joseph McCarthy was censured by the U.S. Senate, Philip K. Dick's paranoid sci-fi story "The Minority Report" posits a future in which prophets wired to a supercomputer enable the cops to bust people for crimes they haven't yet committed. Whether this dystopian vision will disturb a nation that wants potential terrorists detained indefinitely remains to be seen, but Steven Spielberg has turned the material into a highly effective thriller whose futuristic panoramas rival those of A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Tom Cruise plays a police chief who considers the "precrime" system infallible until he's fingered for a future murder and has to prove his innocence. The first 20 minutes are masterful, as Cruise hunts down a killer-to-be; the last 20 are mediocre, as screenwriters Scott Frank and Jon Cohen untangle the mystery they've grafted onto Dick's story. In between lies a conventional but expertly realized cop-on-the-run drama incorporating elements of The Matrix (a subterranean detention center where people are filed away like manila folders), Mission: Impossible (a high-speed chase on a vertical freeway), Blade Runner (some biting satire of consumer culture), and 2001: A Space Odyssey (a recurring star-child image of clairvoyant Samantha Morton). With Colin Farrell and Max von Sydow. 148 min. Burnham Plaza, Century 12 and CineArts 6, Crown Village 18, Davis, Ford City, Gardens 1-6, Golf Glen, Lake, Lincoln Village, 900 N. Michigan, Norridge, Village North, Webster Place.

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