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Minority Report | Movie Review

What is the most coveted thing by humans, Money, Status, Power? No, the topper of this list since the beginning of the human civilization has been the future, or rather the knowledge of future. Man’s attempts to learn beforehand what is going to happen in the future has given birth and sustained numerous occult systems including astrology, crystal gazing, palmistry, etc. But, what will happen if you really knew your future? Knowing it, can you change it? And if you change it, how have you been able to know what will not exist at all?

Movie : Minority Report
Director : Steven Spielberg
Starring : Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max von Sydow
Based on : The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick

Minority Report“, a 2002 science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg deals with these same baffling questions.

Based on a short story by the famous sci-fi writer Philip Dick, the film is a typical Spielberg work with the sleek camera-work and an additional track dealing with broken families. The film was much appraised for its future world depicting personalized advertisements, identification system based on eye recognition technique, futuristic autos etc. designed based on consultations with the real-life scientists.

The year is 2054 in the city of Washington, DC, where captain John Anderton (Tom Cruise) heads the police department called “Precrime“. The department has three mutant “precogs” who have the ability to see the future. Based on their vision of the future murders, the department captures the “would-be” criminals and hence, the city has been murder-free for last six years. But, Anderton’s personnel life is full of problems. His wife Lara has left him following the mysterious disappearance of his son a few years back and Anderton is addicted to an illegal psychoactive drug now.

Danny Witwer of the department of Justice arrives to audit “Precrime”, before the system can be launched on nationwide scale. During this audit, the “precogs” predict that Anderton is going to commit a murder within 36 hours. Anderton is not able to believe this of himself and runs away before he is captured by Precrime. He goes to meet Dr.Iris Hineman, the originator of the Precrime technology who explains that sometimes the visions seen by all the three precogs is not same, but the system avoids the one which is different than the other two i.e., “the minority report”. Clinging on this thread of hope, Anderton kidnaps a “precog” called Agatha. But, unfortunately in his case, there has been no minority report.

Is his fate absolute then? Is he going to commit this murder? During the following thrilling chase with time, number of secrets is revealed one after another, which are best enjoyed on the screen. The basic question however remains that of the conflict between a free will and a deterministic fate. Do we really have what we call a “free will” that signifies us as the species with the most advanced brain power on this planet? Or that all our actions are guided by a superior force and we just follow the course.

The point made here once again is that there can be no absolute future. Whatever method you use to predict your future, the moment you have knowledge of it, it becomes conditional, because, that knowledge gives you the power to change it to some extent, if not absolutely. When you know your future, you have two options to choose from: accept it, and follow the circumstances to make it come true or use everything in your power to change it.

On the present note, the department of police, Santa Cruz, California is currently using a computer algorithm on trial basis to organize the police patrols. This program, however differs from the film as it predicts the location of the crime rather than the person who will commit the crime. Researchers have observed that locations with a criminal history can indicate to the most probable locations of similar crimes in future. Based on the crime database, the algorithm everyday predicts the most dangerous places. In its first trial in Los Angeles in 2004-05, the program could successfully predict 25% of actual burglaries. Let’s hope that arrival of the police in the place before the criminals helps in reducing the crime rates.


Meanwhile, enjoy watching Tom Cruise battling to save his life and future in “future” world.

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