“Careful chief. You dig up the past, all you get is dirty.”
Captain John Anderton (Tom Cruise) works for the office of PreCrime in Washington DC. It is the year 2054 and John’s job is to stop murders before they happen. Today is a double homicide day. The program uses three mutant humans known as precogs. The female precog is named Agatha (Samantha Morton) and the male twins are Dashiell (Mathew Dickman) and Arthur (Michael Dickman). They are floating in a tank of special fluid and connected to equipment that reads their visions. When they visualize a murder that will happen in the future the visions are imprinted on special wooden balls. One is imprinted with the name of the victim and one with the name of the perpetrator.
John, as one of the officers, takes the information from the wooden balls and transfers them to a screen that allows him to witness the murder the precogs see. The police then arrest the perpetrator for the future crime of murder. The perpetrator then has a halo placed on their heads that puts them into a virtual reality prison. This is where they stay.
The precrime unit is a test unit that operates only in Washington DC. There is a referendum in the next election to expand the program nationwide. Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) is from the United States Department of Justice. He is there to audit the program looking for problems. Witwer insists on seeing the precogs up close. John takes him into the area they call the cathedral. This is where the precogs float in their tank, hooked up to the computers.
After he leaves John kneels down and is looking at Agatha when she grabs his arm and shows him a vision of a woman who drowned five years ago. After researching the event John finds that there are some inconsistencies in the predictions. Some of the precog visions are missing. There are only two when there should be three. He brings his concern to Director Lamar Burgess (Max von Sydow).
Back at work a new vision comes in. The victim is Leo Crow. John begins to read the vision to find out any pertinent information. The vision shows that John is the killer. The vision says that John will kill Leo Crowe in the next thirty-six hours. John believes Witwer set him up. John runs. His only thought is to try to clear himself. What he finds out is that occasionally the precogs see an event differently. These differences in what will happen are called Minority Reports. John learns that Agatha is the stronger of the three precogs. In order to clear himself he needs to steal Agatha.
“Minority Report” was released in 2002 and was directed by Steven Spielberg. It is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick.
The film may be a little hard to follow at times. Part of the problem I had was getting use to a whole different world while following an unusual and complex story plot. The world in 2054, on the surface, may look somewhat idealistic but the gloss hides an underbelly of a dystopian existence. The belief that the world is utopian when underneath it is actually a corrupt society is shown as the movie unfolds. PreCrime not only uses the precogs but hides any differences in their visions. It proves that the program is fallible. Also, what PreCrime does is take away people’s freedom of choice. It makes people believe that what the precogs see is inevitable. Would you want your life ruled by an organization that says they think you will do something in the future so they have the right to act on the assumption now? Any tool can also be used as a weapon.
Another aspect of the film that is problematic to a healthy free society is the advertising. The propaganda that assaults everyone individually by altering what they see as advertisement based on who they are, or their eye print, is a form of tailoring propaganda on an individual level. And propaganda is a means of bending people’s will to what someone or some organization wants. Sort of like cookies in your head. It knows every keystroke your brain makes.
The "Precogs" were all named after famous mystery writers: Dashiell Hammett, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie. According to sound designer Gary Rydstrom, the sounds for the Mag-Lev (Magnetic Levitation) car system were made from the sounds of his own washing machine. The police hovership was nicknamed The Dispenser because of its physical similarities to a Pez dispenser. Some technology in the film shown as futuristic at the time the film was made is now available. Gesture control and eye and fingerprint recognition for example. Of course malls and Radio Shack I’m not so sure about being around in 2054.