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Minority Report - Brief Review of the Film as a Science Fiction Thriller
Minority Report is based on what was originally a short story written by Philip K. Dick, that was published for the first time in 1956 in the Sci-Fi magazine 'Fantastic Universe'.
The film was directed by Stephen Spielberg and released in 2002, with the screenplay by Scott Frank.
Set in 2054 and Pre-Crime law enforcement team has successfully stopped all murders in Washington for more than six years. The method used is premonitions by what are called Pre-Cogs - who are three psychic humans - Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise) and his team have special powers to foresee crimes before they occur and arrest the criminal before the crime is committed and any harm is done.
Anderton is obsessed with moral correctness of the Pre-Crime concept, mostly trying to reconcile his problems over the disappearance of his own son. In the film the Pre-Cogs see images of a murder committed by Anderton. This rocks his belief in Pre-Crime and he goes on the run to avoid the consequences.
Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) is investigating the Pre-Crime Unit for flaws in the system before it goes national. Witwer is very intrusive and discovers Anderton's drug addiction. The next day Anderton finds himself accused of a future murder, the victim is a man he has never met. Convinced Witwer set him up, Anderton goes on the run to find his minority report which he believes will contain evidence of his innocence.
The film is a genuine thriller, though goes into too much detail at times, especially towards the end.
In the future humans have developed technology which allows police to convict murderers before they can commit their crimes.
How Does Pre-Crime Work?
- PreCrime relies on 3 psychic mutated humans called PreCogs who can see murders up to 4 days into the future. They are essentially the slaves of PreCrime.
- Each of the 3 PreCogs produces a report on what will happen at the crime scene based on their visions.
- A machine processes the reports and produces a majority report.
- PreCrime officers look over the report for clues such as where the murder will take place.
- Two judges witness the report and confirm there is enough evidence to make a conviction.
- Once the crime has been validated officers head out and arrest the would-be killer.
- Criminals are sedated in prison for life without the option of defending themselves in a trial.
- Played by Tom Cruise
- The film's protagonist
- Formerly a detective
- Joined Precrime after losing his son
- Drug Addict
- Divorced from his wife
- Played by Max von Sydow
- Co-founder of PreCrime
- A mentor figure for Anderton
- Thankful to Anderton
- Depicts Anderton in the short story
- Character was named after Anthony Burgess, the author of clockwork orange (similar themes, risking freedom for protection).
- Played by Colin Farrell.
- A cocky DoJ agent who is auditing the Department of PreCrime.
- Believes that the system is perfect other than Human Error.
- Was motivated into his line of work by his father's death.
- Did training as a priest
- The story is set in 2054, PreCrime has been a huge success and there hasn't been a murder in 6 years.
- PreCrime is preparing to go national and the DoJ have placed Danny Witwer to look for flaws in the system. Witwer is very intrusive and discovers Anderton's drug addiction.
- Anderton finds a few cases of old murders where the minority reports generated by the PreCogs have been deleted and the would-be victims of the murders are missing.
- The next day Anderton while looking over the next report, sees himself as the killer, the victim is a man he has never met.
- Convinced that Witwer set him up, Anderton goes on the run to look for his minority report which he believes will contain evidence of his innocence.
Speculative Elements - The Science
- Film is Soft Science Fiction, Story is a little harder
- Only the core sci-fi technology is justified
- One of only a few western police/crime based sci-fi stories
- Technology includes: 'Eye-dent' Identification - Eye transplants, Sick Sticks, Jet-packs, non-lethal 'air guns', PreCog computer.
- Alternate Future. (Story)
- Main theme is Free Will vs. Determinism
- Do we possess free will or is our fate predetermined?
- Witwer catches the ball, having predetermined its course, he intervenes.
- Legal and Political Moral Themes
- Parallels to post 9/11 America, giving up some freedom to get protection from the government.
- Conviction without trial
- Broken Family
- Utopian and Dystopian Future
- Corruption (hurt and not fairness)
- Spielberg wanted to give the film a "film noir" look (Neo-Noir)
- This was achieved by deliberately over lighting the picture and bleach-bypassing the negatives.
- Desaturated the colours by 40% to give a higher contrast between black and white.
- Big difference between wealth classes
- Some loose ends, but need to pay attention to notice.
- Most critics saw the main theme as a strength but others thought it was weak.
- Some Critics said that the ending should not have been as happy as it was.
Differences between story and film
- In the story Anderton is an old, out of shape man who created PreCrime (depicts Burgess).
- In the story PreCrime covers all crime, not just murder (crime is reduced by 99.8%).
- PreCogs can see up to 2 weeks into the future in story (less dramatic).
- PreCogs are prettier in the film.
- In the story the man Anderton is predicted to kill is his direct competitor in the fight to get funds from the government.
- Story has a much better ending with fewer loose ends.
- Differences were made to the screen adaptation to appeal to a wider, younger audience. Reduced Swearing, more action and fight scenes, less science discussion.
© 2011 Dr. John Anderson