Minority Report

January 24, 2010

(image: 20th Century Fox)

Wikipedia | Minority Report is a 2002 science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story “The Minority Report” by Philip K. Dick. It is set primarily in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia in the year 2054, where “Precrime”, a specialized police department, apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called “precogs”.

The cast includes Tom Cruise as Precrime officer John Anderton, Colin Farrell as Department of Justice agent Danny Witwer, Samantha Morton as the senior precog Agatha, and Max von Sydow as Anderton’s superior Lamar Burgess. The film has a distinctive look, featuring high contrast for dark colors and shadows, resembling film noir.

In 2054, an experimental Washington, D.C. police force called Precrime has cut crime in the city by 90%. Precrime employs three “precogs”, mutated humans with precognition to view murders that occur in the future; the officers of Precrime then analyze and interpret the three visions to track down and stop the murder before it happens. John Anderton is chief of the force, working under its director Lamar Burgess, however, he hides the fact that he is addicted to an illegal psychoactive drug since the disappearance of his son Sean, which also caused his wife Lara to leave him.

On the eve of the Precrime program being taken to a national level, a Department of Justice representative, Danny Witwer, arrives to investigate the program. During Witwer’s visit, the precogs witness Anderton killing a man named Leo Crow in a few days; Anderton escapes the facility and a subsequent manhunt once the precrime is discovered. Believing himself to be set up by Witwer, who has discovered his addiction, tracks down Dr. Iris Hineman, the lead researcher for Precrime. She reveals that there may be a “minority report” from one of the three precogs that disagrees with the other two visions and may have been ignored. Anderton then undergoes an eye replacement surgery in order to avoid being detected by iris trackers around the city. He then uses his old eyes to enter Precrime headquarters and abduct Agatha, the precog that Hinemen noted often had the minority report.

Wikipedia plot details: warning, spoilers! | Using Agatha’s future insight to avoid capture, Anderton takes Agatha to a hacker to try to extract her vision of Leo Crow’s murder, but finds it is the same as the original report. However, Agatha then provides Anderton with her vision of the death of a woman named Anne Lively, which Anderton records. Chased by Precrime, Anderton and Agatha end up at the apartment where Crow is to die; they find his room, covered with hundreds of pictures of children including Sean. When Crow enters, Anderton holds him at gunpoint, but Crow denies any involvement with Sean, and that he is only here to be killed by Anderton to have his family paid off handsomely. Anderton refuses to fire at Crow, but Crow forces himself on Anderton’s gun and makes him pull the trigger, killing him as predicted. Anderton and Agatha flee to Lara’s home, while Witwer and Precrime investigate.

Witwer’s investigation leads him to discover the Anne Lively murder, and the discrepancy between Agatha’s and the others precogs’ visions. He approaches Burgess to explain that someone has manipulated the Precrime division, believing Burgess’ involvement. Burgess kills Witwer, noting that without Agatha, Precrime would not have predicted this murder.

After being taken in by Lara, Anderton comes to realize that Anne Lively is Agatha’s mother, and the knowledge of her death is the reason for the manhunt against him, and shares this with Lara. Precrime eventually arrives at Lara’s home and Anderton is taken into custody, while Agatha is put back into the system. Burgess, preparing for a celebratory dinner for the Precrime program, consoles Lara, but accidentally reveals more about Lively’s murder. Lara calls in help from Anderton’s former friends to free Anderton from prison. During the dinner, Anderton calls Burgess while the precog footage of Lively’s death is played for the guests. Anderton realizes Burgess abused the “future echoes” of the system, having Lively’s death first staged, and then committing the actual murder himself after Precrime dealt with the false target. Anderton recognized that Lively, a former drug addict when she had Agatha, would have come wanting her child, and Burgess had to kill her to keep Precrime viable. Burgess had then set up Anderton in order to cover up Anderton’s knowledge.

As Burgess finds and draws a gun on Anderton, Precrime receives reports that Burgess will kill Anderton. Anderton notes to Burgess the dilemma he is in: either he can kill Anderton, thus demonstrating Precrime works but becoming a murderer himself, or he can spare him, showing Precrime as a failure. Burgess decides to commit suicide and kills himself as Precrime arrive at the scene. The Precrime division is shut down. Anderton later reunites with Lara, while the three precogs are allowed to live out their normal lives, far out on a remote island.