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Album running time

1: Minority Report (6:29)
2: Can You See? (2:12)
3: Pre-Crime to the Rescue (5:48)
4: Sean and Lara (4:46)
5: Spyders (4:33)
6: The Greenhouse Effect (5:09)
7: Eye-Dentiscan (4:48)
8: Everybody Runs! (3:10)
9: Sean's Theme (1:57)
10: Anderton's Great Escape (6:47)
11: Dr Eddie and Miss Van Eych (3:08)
12: Visions of Anne Lively (3:27)
13: Leo Crow... The Confrontation (5:55)
14: "Sean" by Agatha (4:59)
15: Psychic Truth and Finale (7:10)
16: A New Beginning (3:29)

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Artwork copyright (c) 2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Dreamworks LLC; review copyright (c) 2002 James Southall

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Effectively dark soundscape but it's hard going

Minority Report is a film of extremes: probably Steven Spielberg's best film since Jurassic Park, the first time he's done a "popcorn" film for adults, the most gruesome film he's made, certainly one of Tom Cruise's most assured performances, and without question John Williams's least important score for the director. The release of this allegorical tale of the near future in the USA when murders can be predicted and the perpetrators imprisoned before the offence is committed coincided almost exactly with the news that in the UK mentally imbalanced people are to be incarcerated without having done anything wrong, if it is considered likely that they will do something wrong in the future: sometimes these fantasy tales are not too fantastical at all.

This is one of the most frustrating scores to review that I have encountered. For one thing it is difficult to describe. I've seen various comments comparing it with music by Bernard Herrmann and various past scores by Williams including Close Encounters of the Third Kind and even Raiders of the Lost Ark, but there is absolutely zero resemblance to Herrmann and recollections of past Williams scores extend only to the fact that they're by the same composer so certain traits are bound to seep through from one score to another, but I can't think of another Williams score I would say it is especially similar to. It's simply not a film that needs much music. Spielberg may have "grown up" in many ways but he still seems afraid to go without music for much of the running time of his films - it is virtually ever-present in Minority Report - but the music is not saying much of anything: it's just wallpaper.

Now, Williams wallpaper is better than virtually anyone else's and on purely musical terms, much of the album is at least reasonably interesting, but surely Williams's greatest gift is for writing music that contains sheer excitement, and there are only passing moments of that - "Spyders" and "Anderton's Great Escape" are the best tracks, the latter especially. It resembles the "Chase Through Coruscant" cue in Attack of the Clones - musically it's more polished, but to me it lacks the raw energy and excitement of its predecessor and so just isn't as good to listen to. One really great idea is the use of a female vocalist (for the second Williams/Spielberg score running), but unfortunately he never does very much with the concept. The other main part of the score is "Sean's Theme" which appears a few times (whenever Cruise's character remembers his dead son) but it's one of the least interesting character themes I can remember from this composer, who usually does them better than anyone else.

The film is that rare thing, tense and exciting throughout but actually thought-provoking as well, but in the music John Williams just doesn't seem to have very much to say. As in every single one of his albums there are moments of brilliance but not since Stepmom have there also been so many completely dull cues on a Williams album. It really is so difficult to come to a conclusion about this album because every time your interest sags, another good bit is only just around the corner, but ultimately this is one of precious few (perhaps only two) Spielberg films I think would have been better-served by a different composer. (For the record, the other film is Saving Private Ryan and both times I think Jerry Goldsmith would have been the man for the job.)

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