Friday, March 20, 2015

Minority Report (2002)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Before I start, I should warn you that I’m going to be giving away some details that you might not want to hear. Some of them are gross and some of them are plot details. I’ll also be mentioning where the movie’s name comes from. Read on at your own risk.

It’s 2054 and a special program, known as Precrime, has been in existence for six years. Lamar Burgess, played by Max von Sydow, is precrime’s leader. John Anderton, played by Tom Cruise, is the lead officer. It’s only a trial run in Washington, D.C., but there’s soon going to be a vote on whether or not to take it national. (This is why a federal agent, played by Colin Farrell, comes in to see how everything works.) The results have been great. Murder was cut by 90% initially, and then eliminated. Since most people know of its success, premeditated murders in the D.C. area are rarely predicted. Precrime gets mostly crimes of passion.

The movie opens with Precrime being shown a vision of a man about to kill two people. Three precogs generate the vision. (I’ll explain what a precog is later.) Each one generates their own image and the three images are worked into a composite. All the police have to work with is this image. With enough of a vision, the police can garner clues like a merry-go-round or the style of houses.

The precogs are the result of pregnancies during which the mothers were addicted to drugs. I’m not sure if it’s the nature of the drug or the nature of the treatment that does it to them, but the result is that they can see murders while they sleep. I have no idea why it’s limited to such a violent crime. It would have been just as likely for them to come up with jaywalking or next weeks Lotto numbers. (It was mentioned that the precogs were known to have these violent dreams, but I don’t know if they were referring to all precogs or just the three used by the police. The details of how it worked weren’t mentioned.)

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I’ve mentioned this in any review on time travel and precognitive ability and other reviewers have mentioned this about this movie. How can the precogs predict a murder and thus allow the police to stop it? The movie gives an example. Anderton rolls a ball down a table. It falls off the edge, but the federal agent catches it before it hits the ground. Was the ball really going to hit the ground?

Sometimes, the police catch the people actually attempting the murder. However, there is some doubt in many of the cases. Sometimes, one precog sees alternate future, thus generating what is called a minority report, hence the name of the movie. (One such minority report plays a big role in the movie.)

The action begins when Anderton starts digging into an old vision. Agatha, the ‘lead’ precog, can’t seem to get the image out of her head. Before Anderton can do much about it, a new crime is predicted. John Anderton’s name comes up as that of the criminal’s. He’s supposed to murder a man he hasn’t met yet and he’s supposed to do it in a part of town he has no business in.

Here’s where it gets confusing. (I’m going to have to tell you part of the plot to explain it as clearly as I can.) The murder that Anderton is supposed to commit is actually a setup. By looking into the old murder that Agatha was replaying, he was going to figure something out. However, on its face, it seems that the course of events leading up to the murder is set in motion by the prediction of the murder itself. Had the prediction not come through, there’s no way of telling if Anderton would have known to look for the person. However, if the murder had been set up and was going to occur, that might have been enough to cause the prediction. It seems as though Anderton’s committing the murder is predicated on him being in a position to see the prediction and to do something about it.

Like I said, it’s confusing. All I can say is that you have to pay attention.

The central question seems to be whether or not you can change the future. Like I said, there is room for two futures to be predicted. Also, the police can stop the murder from happening. How certain is the future?

Another thing to consider is that D.C. seems to have found the perfect system. There is no perfect system. There’s always a way to cheat it or to manipulate it to your advantage. This comes up a few times in the movie.

The movie has a 1984 feel to it. There are retinal scanners and customer databases that keep track of your purchases. There’s a ton of product placement. Futuristic billboards advertise Pepsi and Aquafina. Anderton walks into The Gap to get some clothing for Agatha.

It can be an enjoyable movie if you don’t think about it. If you do think about it, you’ll probably want to watch the movie several times.

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