“The fact that you prevented it from happening doesn’t change the fact that it was going to happen”.
The line of dialogue from John Anderton is also his core belief, and one of the many lines of dialogue that has stuck with me for the countless times I have seen Minority Report (2002) over the years. It is a film that asks you to think long after, but not to a degree that certain films (especially science fiction) would make some viewers need to take a Tylenol. That, and it is as engaging as any film that has come out in the first two decades of the 21st century.
Set in the (not entirely so) distant future of 2054 in the District of Columbia, the film centers on the existence of tech that allows authorities (called Pre-Crime) to stop murders before they happen. The images are given to them by three clairevoyant-like humans who are stored in nutrient liquid, called the pre cognitives (or “Pre Cogs”). In six years, there have been just over 1,100 cases, and every single one has resulted in a murder being prevented. Heading the team is the aforementioned Anderton (Tom Cruise), a firm believer in the system after having suffered an unimaginable loss.
Before the system is to go National, the Attorney General sends in a representative, Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell), to make sure there are no flaws in the system. Though Anderton is a firm believer, he begins to see very tiny cracks in the program that was started by Lamar Burgess (the late Max Von Sydow). These cracks only begin to widen as it is discovered that Anderton’s name is next on the list of soon to be murderers, forcing him to go on the run (something Tom Cruise does quiet a lot in movies.)
With each viewing of the film, I am more awestruck at how solid the script is. Even though it is based on a short story by legendary Sci-Fi writer Philip K. Dick, it is broadened by writers Scott Frank and Jon Cohen. However, it is director Steven Spielberg (perhaps you have heard of him?) that deserves the credit. Obviously an established filmmaker with uncanny abilities, Spielberg approaches each sequence of the film with precision and care (he is well known for “story boarding” sequences).
Consider the overhead shot in which we see small robotic spiders crawling through an apartment building (in which Anderton is hiding) scanning everyone’s eyes for ID. Or the fight between Cruise and Farrell on a car assembly line (that car is, as kids would say today, “lit”). Or the opening scene in which we see how the process of stopping a murder takes place. It is filmmaking artistry to a tee.
Yet there are still smaller, quieter moments, such as a very well done shot of Anderton and Agatha (more on her in a bit) simply looking in opposite directions, or when Spielberg pays homage to A Clockwork Orange with a precursor to eye surgery (Spielberg was a big fan as well as friend of Stanley Kubrick). There are also lighter comic moments (something I feel Spielberg has always been underrated for), the best of which take place in a shopping mall.
Now for the character of Agatha, who is played by Samantha Morton. She is the one female pre cog, as well as the one who is the most talented. While all in the cast are sensational (this film may very well be my favorite of Tom Cruise), I feel Morton is the one that has stayed with me all these years later. I will forever be in the camp of thinking she was horribly overlooked for award consideration.
Parents, the film is a solid PG-13 rating. There is a decent amount of swearing (one F bomb), and three scenes of rather mild sexual stuff (two of which last no more than 4-5 seconds). Middle school and above.
When this film was released, it may have also been around the time I started finding out the true meaning of déjà vu. Though I can only speak for myself, there have been times where I have had random split second dreams that have seemed to happen to me in real life months later.
While this indeed is seemingly me overthinking things (as I am no doubt prone to doing), I do remember certain historical biblical figures able to interpret dreams, most notably Daniel. And, of course, Jesus telling Peter he would deny him three times.
I was 15 when I saw the film in theaters, unaware that the film displayed a time when the government took many liberties and freedoms away from the community. Though it is not done to the film’s extreme in our present day, it is rather creepy to think of how right the film was in knowing that our lives can be found out about in nearly the blink of an eye.
The future really is catching up to us.