Minority Report (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steven Spielberg|
|Based on||"The Minority Report"
by Philip K. Dick
|Music by||John Williams|
|Edited by||Michael Kahn|
|Box office||$358.4 million|
Minority Report is a 2002 American science fiction action mystery-thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story of the same name 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 Chief of PreCrime 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 combines elements of tech noir, whodunit, thriller and science fiction genres, as well as a traditional chase film, as the main protagonist is accused of a crime he has not committed and becomes a fugitive.
Spielberg has characterized the story as "fifty percent character and fifty percent very complicated storytelling with layers and layers of murder mystery and plot". The film's central theme is the question of free will versus determinism. It examines whether free will can exist if the future is set and known in advance. Other themes include the role of preventive government in protecting its citizenry, the role of media in a future state where technological advancements make its presence nearly boundless, the potential legality of an infallible prosecutor, and Spielberg's repeated theme of broken families.
The film was first optioned in 1992 as a sequel to another Dick adaptation, Total Recall, and started its development in 1997, after a script by Jon Cohen reached Spielberg and Cruise. Production suffered many delays due to Cruise's Mission: Impossible II and Spielberg's A.I. running over schedule, eventually starting in March 2001. During pre-production, Spielberg consulted numerous scientists in an attempt to present a more plausible future world than that seen in other science fiction films, and some of the technology designs in the film have proven prescient. Minority Report has a unique visual style. It uses high contrast to create dark colors and shadows, much like a film noir picture. The film's overlit shots feature desaturated colors which were achieved by bleach-bypassing the film's negative in post-production.
Minority Report was one of the best reviewed films of 2002. It received praise for its writing, visuals and themes, but earned some criticism for its ending which was considered inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the movie. The film was nominated for and won several awards. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Editing, and eleven Saturn Award nominations, including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Saturn Award for Best Music, winning Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction, Best Writing, and Best Supporting Actress. The film was a commercial success, earning over $358 million worldwide against an overall budget of $142 million (including advertising). Over four million DVDs were sold in its first few months of home release.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Music
- 5 Ending
- 6 Style
- 7 Release
- 8 Reception
- 9 Television series
- 10 Notes
- 11 See also
- 12 Sources
- 13 References
- 14 External links
In April 2054, Washington, D.C.'s PreCrime police stops murderers before they act, reducing the murder rate to zero. Murders are predicted using three mutated humans, called "Precogs", who "previsualize" crimes by receiving visions of the future. Would-be murderers are imprisoned in their own happy virtual reality. The Federal government is on the verge of adopting the controversial program.
Since the disappearance of his son Sean, PreCrime Captain John Anderton has separated from his wife Lara and becomes a drug addict. While United States Department of Justice agent Danny Witwer is auditing the program, the Precogs generate a new prediction, saying Anderton will murder a man named Leo Crow in 36 hours. Anderton does not know Crow, but flees the area as Witwer begins a manhunt. Anderton seeks the advice of Dr. Iris Hineman, the creator of PreCrime technology. She reveals that sometimes, one of the Precogs, usually Agatha, has a different vision than the other two, a "minority report" of a possible alternate future; this has been kept a secret as it would damage the system's credibility. Anderton resolves to recover the minority report to prove his innocence.
Anderton goes to a black market doctor for a risky eye transplant so as to avoid the city-wide optical recognition system. He returns to PreCrime and kidnaps Agatha, shutting down the system, as the Precogs operate as a group mind. Anderton takes Agatha to a hacker to extract the minority report of Leo Crow, but none exists; instead, Agatha shows him an image of the murder of Ann Lively, a woman who was drowned by a hooded figure in 2049.
Anderton and Agatha go to Crow's apartment as the 36-hour time nears, finding numerous photos of children, including Sean's. Crow arrives and Anderton prepares to kill him, accusing him to be a serial child killer. Agatha talks Anderton out of shooting Crow by telling him that he has the ability to choose his future now that he is aware of it. Crow however begs to be killed, having been hired to plant the photos and be killed in exchange for his family's financial well being. Crow grabs Anderton's gun and pushes the trigger, killing himself. Anderton and Agatha flee to Lara's house outside the city for refuge. There they learn Lively was Agatha's drug-addicted mother who sold her to PreCrime. Lively had sobered up and attempted to reclaim Agatha, but was murdered. Anderton realizes he is being targeted for knowing about Lively's existence and her connection to Agatha.
Witwer, studying Crow's death, suspects Anderton is being framed. He examines the footage of Lively's murder and finds there were two attempts on her life, the first having been stopped by PreCrime but the second, occurring minutes later, having succeeded. Witwer reports this to the director and founder of PreCrime, Lamar Burgess, but Burgess responds by killing Witwer using Anderton's gun. With the Precogs still offline, the murder is not detected.
Lara calls Burgess to reveal that Anderton is with her, and Anderton is captured, accused of both murders, and fitted with the brain device that puts him permanently into a dreamlike sleep. As his body is deposited into the prison, the warden tells him, "that all your dreams come true.”
Agatha is reconnected to the PreCrime system. While attempting to comfort Lara, Burgess accidentally reveals himself as Lively's murderer. Lara frees Anderton from stasis, and Anderton exposes Burgess at a PreCrime celebratory banquet by playing the full video of Agatha's vision of Burgess killing Lively. A new report is generated at PreCrime: Burgess will kill Anderton. Burgess corners Anderton, and explains that as he could not afford to let Lively take Agatha back without impacting PreCrime, he arranged to kill Lively following an actual attempt on her life, so that the murder would appear as an echo to the technician within PreCrime and be ignored. Anderton points out Burgess's dilemma: If Burgess kills Anderton, he will be imprisoned for life, but PreCrime will be validated; if he spares Anderton, PreCrime will be discredited and shut down. Anderton reveals the ultimate flaw of the system: once people are aware of their future, they are able to change it. Burgess shoots himself.
After Burgess's death, the PreCrime system is shut down and all prisoners pardoned. Anderton and Lara are soon to have a new child together. The Precogs are sent to an isolated island to live their lives in peace.
- Tom Cruise as Chief John Anderton
- Max von Sydow as Director Lamar Burgess
- Colin Farrell as Danny Witwer
- Samantha Morton as Agatha Lively
- Michael and Matthew Dickman as Arthur and Dashiell "Dash" Arkadin, the precog twins
- Neal McDonough as Gordon "Fletch" Fletcher
- Steve Harris as Jad
- Patrick Kilpatrick as Knott
- Jessica Capshaw as Evanna
- Lois Smith as Dr. Iris Hineman
- Kathryn Morris as Lara Anderton
- Peter Stormare as Dr. Solomon P. Eddie
- Mike Binder as Leo Crow
- Tim Blake Nelson as Gideon
- Daniel London as Norbert "Wally" Wallace
- Jessica Harper as Ann Lively (unaccredited cameo)
Dick's story was first optioned by producer and writer Gary Goldman in 1992. He created the initial script for the film with Ron Shusett and Robert Goethals (uncredited). It was supposed to be a sequel to the 1990 Dick adaptation Total Recall, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. Novelist Jon Cohen was hired in 1997 to adapt the story for a potential film version that would have been directed by Dutch filmmaker Jan de Bont. Meanwhile, Cruise and Spielberg, who met and became friends on the set of Cruise's film Risky Business in 1983, had been looking to collaborate for ten years. Spielberg was set to direct Cruise in Rain Man, but left to make Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Cruise read Cohen's script, and passed it onto Spielberg, who felt it needed some work. Spielberg was not directly involved in the writing of the script; however, he was allowed to decide whether the picture's screenplay was ready to be filmed. When Cohen submitted an acceptable revision, he called Cruise and said, "Yeah, I'll do this version of the script." In that version, Witwer creates a false disk which shows Anderton killing him. When Anderton sees the clip, his belief in the infallibility of the precogs' visions convinces him it is true, therefore the precogs have a vision of him killing Witwer. At the end, Anderton shoots Witwer and one of the brother precogs finishes him off, because Witwer had slain his twin. Spielberg was attracted to the story because as both a mystery and a movie set 50 years in the future, it allowed him to do "a blending of genres" which intrigued him.
In 1998, the pair joined Minority Report and announced the production as a joint venture of Spielberg's DreamWorks and Amblin Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Cruise's Cruise/Wagner Productions, and De Bont's production company, Blue Tulip. Spielberg however stated that despite being credited, De Bont never became involved with the film. Cruise and Spielberg, at the latter's insistence, reportedly agreed to each take 15% of the gross instead of any money up front to try to keep the film's budget under $100 million. Spielberg said he had done the same with name actors in the past to great success: "Tom Hanks took no cash for Saving Private Ryan but he made a lot of money on his profit participation." He made this agreement a prerequisite:
I haven't worked with many movie stars—80 per cent of my films don't have movie stars—and I've told them if they want to work with me I want them to gamble along with me. I haven't taken a salary in 18 years for a movie, so if my film makes no money I get no money. They should be prepared to do the same.
Production was delayed for several years; the original plan was to begin filming after Cruise's Mission: Impossible II was finished. However, that film ran over schedule, which also allowed Spielberg time to bring in screenwriter Scott Frank to rework Cohen's screenplay. John August did an uncredited draft to polish the script, and Frank Darabont was also invited to rewrite, but was by then busy with The Majestic. The film closely follows Frank's final script (written May 16, 2001), and contains much of Cohen's third draft (May 24, 1997). Frank removed the character of Senator Malcolm from Cohen's screenplay, and inserted Burgess, who became the "bad guy". He also rewrote Witwer from a villain to a "good guy", as he was in the short story. In contrast to Spielberg's next science fiction picture, War of the Worlds, which he called "100 percent character" driven, Spielberg said the story for Minority Report became "fifty percent character and fifty percent very complicated storytelling with layers and layers of murder mystery and plot." According to film scholar Warren Buckland, "It appears that...Cohen and...Frank did not see" the "Goldman and Schusett screenplay; instead; they worked on their own adaptation." Goldman and Schusett however claimed the pair used a lot of material from their script, so the issue went through the Writer's Guild arbitration process. They won a partial victory; they were not given writing credits, but were listed as executive producers. The film was delayed again so Spielberg could finish A.I. after the death of his friend Stanley Kubrick. When Spielberg originally signed on to direct, he planned to have an entirely different supporting cast. He offered the role of Witwer to Matt Damon, Iris Hineman to Meryl Streep, Burgess to Ian McKellen, Agatha to Cate Blanchett, and Lara to Jenna Elfman. However, Streep declined the role, Damon opted out, and the other roles were recast due to the delays.
After E.T., Spielberg started to consult experts, and put more scientific research into his science fiction films. In 1999, he invited fifteen experts convened by the Global Business Network, its chairman, Peter Schwartz, and its co-founder Stewart Brand to a hotel in Santa Monica, California for a three-day "think tank". One of them was urbanist, futurist, and journalist Joel Garreau. He wanted to consult with the group to create a plausible "future reality" for the year 2054 as opposed to a more traditional "science fiction" setting. Dubbed the "think tank summit", the experts included architect Peter Calthorpe, Douglas Coupland, computer scientist Neil Gershenfeld, biomedical researcher Shaun Jones, computer scientist Jaron Lanier, and former Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) architecture dean William J. Mitchell. Production designer Alex McDowell kept what was nicknamed the "2054 bible", an 80-page guide created in preproduction which listed all the decided upon aspects of the future world: architectural, socio-economical, political, and technological. While the discussions did not change key elements in the film's action sequences, they were influential in the creation of some of the more utopian aspects of the film, though John Underkoffler, the science and technology advisor for the film, described it as "much grayer and more ambiguous" than what was envisioned in 1999. John Underkoffler, who designed most of Anderton's interface after Spielberg told him to make it "like conducting an orchestra", said "it would be hard to identify anything [in the movie] that had no grounding in reality." McDowell teamed up with architect Greg Lynn to work on some of the technical aspects of the production design. Lynn praised his work, saying that "[a] lot of those things Alex cooked up for Minority Report, like the 3-D screens, have become real." Spielberg described his ideas for the film's technology to Roger Ebert before the movie's release:
I wanted all the toys to come true someday. I want there to be a transportation system that doesn't emit toxins into the atmosphere. And the newspaper that updates itself...
The Internet is watching us now. If they want to. They can see what sites you visit. In the future, television will be watching us, and customizing itself to what it knows about us. The thrilling thing is, that will make us feel we're part of the medium. The scary thing is, we'll lose our right to privacy. An ad will appear in the air around us, talking directly to us.
News sources have noted the future technologies depicted in the film were prescient. The Guardian published a piece titled "Why Minority Report was spot on" in June 2010, and the following month Fast Company examined seven crime fighting technologies in the film similar to ones then appearing. It summarized that "the police state imagined in the Tom Cruise flick feels a bit more real every day." Other major media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal have published articles dedicated to this phenomenon, and National Public Radio (NPR) published an August 2010 podcast which analyzed the film's accuracy in predicting future technologies. Companies like Hewlett-Packard (HP) have announced they were motivated to do research by the film; in HP's case to develop cloud computing.
Technologies from the film later realized include
Multi-touch interfaces similar to Anderton's, put out by Apple's iPhone (2007), Microsoft (2007), Obscura Digital (2008), MIT (2009), Intel (2009), and Microsoft again, this time for their Xbox 360 (2010). A company representative, at the 2007 premiere of the Apple iPhone, promised it "will feel like Minority Report." When Microsoft released the Kinect motion sensing camera add-on for their Xbox 360 gaming console in 2010, the Kinect's technology allowed several programmers, including students at MIT, to create Minority Report-inspired user interfaces.
Retina scanners, by a Manhattan company named Global Rainmakers Incorporated (GRI) (2010). GRI disputed the notion that its technology could be the threat to privacy it is in the film. "Minority Report is one possible outcome," a corporate official told Fast Company. "I don't think that's our company's aim, but I think what we're going to see is an environment well beyond what you see in that movie—minus the precogs, of course." The company is installing hundreds of the scanners in Bank of America locations in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has a contract to install them on several United States Air Force bases.
Those in development include
- Insect robots, similar to the film's spyder robots, by the United States Military. These insects will be capable of reconnoitre missions in dangerous areas not fit for soldiers, such as "occupied houses". They serve the same purpose in the film. According to the developer, BAE Systems, the "goal is to develop technologies that will give our soldiers another set of eyes and ears for use in urban environments and complex terrain; places where they cannot go or where it would be too dangerous."
- Facial recognition advertising billboards, being developed by the Japanese company NEC. These billboards will theoretically be able to recognize passers-by via facial recognition, call them by name, and deliver customer specific advertisements. Thus far the billboards can recognize age and gender, and deliver demographically appropriate adverts, but cannot discern individuals. According to The Daily Telegraph, the billboards will "behave like those in...Minority Report...in which Cruise's character is confronted with digital signs that call out his name as he walks through a futuristic shopping mall." IBM is developing similar billboards which plan to deliver customized adverts to individuals who carry identity tags. Like NEC, the company feels they will not be obtrusive as their billboards will only advertise products which a customer is interested in. Advertisers are embracing these billboards as they figure to reduce costs by lowering the number of adverts wasted on uninterested consumers.
- Crime prediction software, developed by a professor from the University of Pennsylvania (2010). The software, which was detailed in a Daily Mail article titled "The real Minority Report" upon its announcement, "collates a range of variables then uses an algorithm to work out who is at the highest chance of offending." As in the film, the program was announced for a trial run in Washington D.C., which, if successful, will lead to a national rollout.
- Electronic paper, development announced by Xerox (2002), MIT (2005), Germany (2006), media conglomerate Hearst Corporation (2008), and LG; a South Korean electronics manufacturer (2010). Xerox has been trying to develop something similar to e-paper since before the film was released in theaters. In 2005, when The Washington Post asked the chief executive of MIT's spin-off handling their research when "the Minority Report newspaper" would be released, he predicted "around 2015". In 2006 PC World announced in an article titled: "German Researchers Say 'Minority Report' Transparent Screens Possible", German researchers thought they would be available in two years. Tech Watch's 2008 article, "'Minority Report' e-newspaper on the way", noted that Hearst was "pushing large amounts of cash into" the technology. In discussing the LG announcement, CNET commented that "[i]f you thought electronic newspapers were the stuff of science fiction, you're quite right. They first featured in the film Minority Report, released in 2002."
- Augmented reality with hand control developed by Keytree Limited allowing users to perform the iconic gestures from the film. This development combines AR, hand tracking face recognition and the ability to work in virtual space all pioneered in this film.
Minority Report was the first film to have an entirely digital production design. Termed "previz", as an abbreviation of previsualization (a term borrowed from the film's narrative), production designer Alex McDowell said the system allowed them to use Photoshop in place of painters, and employ 3-D animation programs (Maya and XSI) to create a simulated set, which could be filled with digital actors then used to block out shots in advance. The technology also allowed the tie-in video game and special effects companies to cull data from the previs system before the film was finished, which they used to establish parameters for their visuals. When Spielberg quickly became a fan, McDowell said "[i]t became pretty clear that [he] wouldn't read an illustration as a finished piece, but if you did it in Photoshop and created a photorealistic environment he focused differently on it." Filming took place from March 22 to July 18, 2001, in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Los Angeles. Film locations included the Ronald Reagan Building (as PreCrime headquarters) and Georgetown. The skyline of Rosslyn, Virginia is visible when Anderton flies across the Potomac River. During production, Spielberg made regular appearances on a video-only webcam based in the craft services truck, both alone and with Tom Cruise; together they conferenced publicly with Ron Howard and Russell Crowe via a similar webcam on the set of "A Beautiful Mind" in New York.
Although it takes place in an imagined future world of advanced technology, Minority Report attempts to embody a more "realistic" depiction of the future. Spielberg decided that to be more credible, the setting had to keep both elements of the present and ones which specialists expected would be forthcoming. Thus Washington, D.C. as depicted in the movie keeps well-known buildings such as the Capitol and the Washington Monument, as well as a section of modern buildings on the other side of the Potomac River. Production designer Alex McDowell was hired based on his work in Fight Club and his storyboards for a film version of Fahrenheit 451 which would have starred Mel Gibson. McDowell studied modern architecture, and his sets contain many curves, circular shapes, and reflective materials. Costume designer Deborah L. Scott decided to make the clothes worn by the characters as simple as possible, so as not to make the depiction of the future seem dated.
The stunt crew was the same one used in Cruise's Mission: Impossible II, and was responsible for complex action scenes. These included the auto factory chase scene, filmed in a real facility using props such as a welding robot, and the fight between Anderton and the jetpack-clad officers, filmed in an alley set built on the Warner Bros. studio lot. Industrial Light & Magic did most of the special effects, and DreamWorks-owned PDI was responsible for the Spyder robots. The company Pixel Liberation Front did previsualization animatics. The holographic projections and the prison facility were filmed by several roving cameras which surrounded the actors, and the scene where Anderton gets off his car and runs along the Maglev vehicles was filmed on stationary props, which were later replaced by computer-generated vehicles.
The Philip K. Dick story only gives you a springboard that really doesn't have a second or third act. Most of the movie is not in the Philip K. Dick story – to the chagrin of the Philip K. Dick fans, I'm sure.— Steven Spielberg, June 2002
Like most film adaptations of Dick's works, many aspects of his story were changed in their transition to film, such as the addition of Lamar Burgess and the change in setting from New York City to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Northern Virginia. The character of John Anderton was changed from a balding and out-of-shape old man to an athletic officer in his 40s to fit its portrayer and the film's action scenes. The film adds two stories of tragic families; Anderton's, and that of the three pre-cogs. In the short story, Anderton is married with no children, while in the film, he is the divorced father of a kidnapped son, who is most likely deceased. Although it is implied, but unclear in the film whether Agatha is related to the twin pre-cogs, her family was shattered when Burgess murdered her mother, Anne Lively. The precogs were intellectually disabled and deformed individuals in the story, but in the film, they are the genetically mutated offspring of drug addicts. Anderton's future murder and the reasons for the conspiracy were changed from a general who wants to discredit PreCrime to regain some military funding, to a man who murdered a precog's mother to preserve PreCrime. The subsequent murders and plot developed from this change. The film's ending also differs from the short story's. In Dick's story, Anderton prevents the closure of the PreCrime division, however, in the movie Anderton successfully brings about the end of the organization. Other aspects were updated to include current technology. For instance in the story, Anderton uses a punch card machine to interpret the precogs' visions; in the movie, he uses a virtual reality interface.
Free will versus determinism
The main theme of Minority Report is the classic philosophical debate of free will versus determinism. One of the main questions the film raises is whether the future is set or whether free will can alter the future. As critic C.A. Wolski commented, "At the outset, Minority Report... promises to mine some deep subject matter, to do with: do we possess free will or are we predestined to our fate?" However, there is also the added question of whether the precogs' visions are correct. As reviewer James Berardinelli asked, "is the Precogs' vision accurate, or has it in some way been tampered with? Perhaps Anderton isn't actually going to kill, but has been set up by a clever and knowledgeable criminal who wants him out of the way." The precog Agatha also states that since Anderton knows his future, he can change it. However, the film also indicates that Anderton's knowledge of the future may actually be the factor that causes Leo Crow's death. Berardinelli describes this as the main paradox regarding free will vs. determinism in the film, "[h]ere's the biggest one of all: Is it possible that the act of accusing someone of a murder could begin a chain of events that leads to the slaying. In Anderton's situation, he runs because he is accused. The only reason he ends up in circumstances where he might be forced to kill is because he is a hunted man. Take away the accusation, and there would be no question of him committing a criminal act. The prediction drives the act – a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can see the vicious circle, and it's delicious (if a little maddening) to ponder." Film scholar Dean A. Kowalski argues that in this scenario free will still exists, as the perpetrators control their actions, and the precogs' visions are but the facts that resulted from their choices.
The central theme of the movie is discussed in the film's fourth scene. Witwer discusses the PreCrime system with the division's staff. He believes that its main "legalistic drawback" is that it "arrests individuals who have broken no laws." Jad responds, "But they will!" When Anderton later arrives upon this discussion, he acknowledges the paradox Witwer raises; that the precogs prevent an event accepted as fact, but one which will never happen. To show him that people regularly use predetermination, Anderton picks up a wooden ball and rolls it toward Witwer, who catches it before it lands on the ground. When asked why he caught the ball, Witwer says "Because it was going to fall." Anderton replies, "But it didn't." Then confidently tells him, "The fact that you prevented it from happening doesn't change the fact that it was going to happen." Kowalski feels this example is faulty in the sense that the ball has no free will; it merely acts according to the laws of physics, but he acknowledges that if an individual were to have freely chosen to commit murder, then it would hold. Film scholar Stephen Mulhall points out that unlike the laws of physics which have a series of scientifically testable causal laws, Anderton merely has the visions of the precogs, whose psychic abilities are not fully explained by science.
Another quandary is that if the precogs' visions are infallible then the future cannot be otherwise, while if they are incorrect people will be punished for crimes they will never commit. Kowalski contends that the precogs only attain knowledge of what he calls the "conditional future". He cites as evidence two examples: the scene where Agatha steers Anderton through the mall by foreseeing dangerous events and helping him circumnavigate them, and a later scene where she tells Anderton and his ex-wife what would have happened to their child if he had lived. In the first example, Agatha knows what Anderton will freely choose to do when presented with specific facts so she provides them to him, and, in the second, she knows what will have happened to the Andertons' son based on specific scenarios throughout his life, in which she can see what he would have freely chosen to do, and what selections various people in his life would have freely made. According to Kowalski, the PreCrime unit therefore removes individuals from precise situations where they would freely choose to become a murderer. Philosophy professor Michael Huemer adds that he believes "the only way the otherwise predetermined future seen by the precogs can be averted, we are led to believe, is by the influence of the precogs themselves," and that since there was no minority report (i.e.; no possibility of an alternative fate) for Anderton, the only way he can change the future is by knowing the precogs' visions.
Political and legal
Spielberg said that the arrest of criminals before they have a chance to commit their crimes in the movie had some real world background in post 9/11 America, commenting that "[w]e’re giving up some of our freedom so that the government can protect us." The future world in Minority Report of retinal scans, robotic human inspectors, and intrusive, individualized, public advertising arrived in American theaters as the country was debating how much governmental intrusion into personal matters was necessary to ensure safety of its citizens. Spielberg said he would be against a PreCrime system if it were ever possible, as he believes that if it did exist, those in control of it would undoubtedly abuse its powers. Kowalski questions what the benevolent precogs in the film could become in the hands of those who trained their skills for political intrigue. Science fiction scholar Gary Westfahl asserts that in a political context, PreCrime may be seen "a metaphor for racial profiling, and one could view the liberation of the precogs as the end of a form of slavery."
Kowalski feels the isolation of the precogs ensures that they see their visions merely as facts, and removes them from having to justify them. The precogs' ignorance of the results of their visions prevents them from knowing the effectiveness of the program. He feels the PreCrime officers are thus more qualified to evaluate their efficacy "than the precogs themselves." In the December 2003 edition of the academic journal Film Criticism, scholar Mark Garrett Cooper moved past that point by asserting that not only have the precogs "yet to fully understand" their visions, but that the process by which the images are interpreted makes it so that no one individual could understand them without the use of the apparatus. The machinery is so effective and precise according to Cooper however, that the "omnipresent system effectively makes capture more certain than the crime." When the system targets the hero [Cruise], instead of fleeing, he remains in the vicinity in the belief that the system will, in its inexorable logic, correct itself. The apparatus is considered so infallible according to Cooper that the hero knows once he is cleared by it, his life can immediately return to normal. In this respect, Cooper feels that "far from indicting a security state, the film legitimates one".
The film presents a legal system where the PreCrime office gathers the images from the minds of the precogs, then organizes them into a coherent order for display in front of a set of judges. The judges appear via video feeds, analyze the images, and according to Cooper they view the images, listen to Anderton rattle off "a string of legalistic verbiage", then give it a "pro forma ratification." Thus the accused is never present, is not allowed a defense, and is convicted before he is aware he is on trial. The program is marketed in a similar basic fashion, as in its tag line: "It works." Cooper says that in a typical American courtroom drama, the audience is treated as if it were the jury, but in this system, instead of desiring the hero be proven innocent, the audience seeks to have the guilt transferred from Anderton to Burgess. But to do so Anderton has to disprove the system, which he does by proving the existence of the minority report. This renders the PreCrime justice system inoperable, as if there is doubt related not merely to the gathering of the images, or their ability to be interpreted, but their ability to be correct even in perfect circumstances, then the system of infallible guilt can not exist.
Spielberg conceived of the idea of a future world permeated with intrusive capitalism and government surveillance after everyone at the "think tank summit" told him that "the right of privacy is a diminishing commodity" which will soon be thrown "right out the window". According to film critic J. Hoberman, Minority Report "visualizes (as well as demonstrates) a future where the unconscious has been thoroughly colonized." When the movie first appeared in theaters a common source of reviewers' complaints was the film's product placement, which they found intrusive. The personalized advertising is disconcerting partly because of the invasion of privacy, but also, argues Cooper, because it is cold, impersonalized, and insincere. Film scholar Martin Hall says that the purpose of the ads Anderton runs into are "encouraging him to buy certain products and, by extension, affirm his place in society."
Cooper feels Minority Report emphasizes the future importance of the control over imagery. According to him, the images captured from the precogs' visions in the film bestow power on those who control their processing. He says the film warns viewers that those who control images must be carefully overseen so as to prevent the abuse of power, and that the film presents "governance as a problem of image arrangement". Cooper says the quandary arises when the film intimates that there will be no way to escape the media industry's omnipotence in the future, while at the same time defending "the need for image manipulating institutions". He feels that this logically raises another issue in that the same concern could be leveled towards image-makers such as DreamWorks, and he says the "film's virtue lies in provoking this question". He notes that the film's tranquil ending concludes with the Andertons looking out into a peaceful exterior with only rain visible, and the precogs reading in their isolated, idyllic farm, and both families apparently free of electronic surveillance.
In his analysis of the movie in the academic journal Rhizomes, scholar Martin Hall discusses the self-perception people develop based on the views of those outside of themselves. The academic notes that when a child first comprehends the function of a mirror, they begin to develop the understanding that their perception of themselves is not self-contained, and learn that they are what they see in the mirror. He contrasts this to when Anderton discovers the precogs' vision of his future self. Anderton becomes flustered while interpreting the images which show him about to commit murder. According to Hall, he begins "searching for whatever possible versions of this representation are available to him, other than the one that represents him as a murderer." He literally becomes obsessed with himself, seeking to resolve these images which put him at "discordance with his own reality". Hall says that he is sorting through the images so feverishly because he is convinced once they are sorted properly and understood, they will not show him to be the murderer, as he is convinced that he is not one. Previously, at peace with himself, Hall says Anderton cannot accept the image he sees in the precogs' visions. Unable to reconcile the two, Hall says he is forced to decide that "it is likely that errors have occurred" in the PreCrime system. Agatha enters a similar period of self-examination when she has visions of her mother's death, and is informed they are merely "echoes", i.e. a faulty image in her memory.
When he escapes the building and enters the mall, Hall feels he is disturbed by ads calling to him by name not only because they will give away his presence, but also because they remind him of his lost place in society, and he begins "to see through the false consciousness his (illusory) previous position as fixed subject had allowed him." Spielberg said Anderton is being punished for his previous callous unconcern for anything but the effectiveness of the PreCrime program. "He's dirtied by the fact that he doesn't spend much time thinking about the moral consequences. It's just like a sporting event almost—and then suddenly that whole sporting event makes him the soccer ball." Hall says that his doubts about his own future lead him to examine his previous life to better understand himself. He runs through his role in the PreCrime system, and his son's disappearance "to reconstruct his past". After Leo Crow in fact kills himself, Anderton becomes healed, and later has "recreated himself as the subject he was previously through the knowledge that he is not a killer." Although he has satisfactorily repaired his self-image, Hall notes that Anderton is not the same person, as he no longer believes in the PreCrime system. Hall says that Burgess's final quandary; namely his desire to keep PreCrime running, but his inability to bring himself to kill Anderton to accomplish that task, and his desire to live, drives him to see his only suitable action to be suicide.
Minority Report continues Spielberg's tradition of depicting broken families, which he has said is motivated by his parents' divorce when he was a child. In Dick's short story, Anderton is a childless, married man whose main motives are self-preservation and preventing the disassembly of the PreCrime division. While he is also trying to save himself in the movie, his greater concern is uncovering the story behind his son's disappearance. Spielberg would later transform his next science fiction film, War of the Worlds, from a story about a single man to one about a divorced father concerned with protecting his children. Buckland notes that the two tragic parent-child relationships in the picture (Agatha and Anne Lively, John and Sean Anderton) have a common element. The movie has four shots of them submerged in water. Agatha's face is shown in a close up shot, taken from directly above her, when she is submerged in her photon milk, nutrient bath. When photos of her mother's submerged corpse are shown to her, the emphasized photograph is a similar image of her face taken from directly above. Anderton and his son are shown together in a pool flashback scene in which they have a contest to see who can hold their breath longest. John is underwater when his son is taken, and later in the apartment he is shown lying motionless, immersed in a filled bathtub, in a manner Buckland finds similar to the shots of Agatha and Anne. Buckland notes that co-screenwriter Frank introduced the water theme, as he wrote Agatha and her mother's back stories while adding the bathtub scene.
|Minority Report: Original Motion Picture Score|
|Film score by John Williams|
|Released||June 18, 2002|
|John Williams chronology|
The score was composed and conducted by John Williams and orchestrated by John Neufeld, with vocals by Deborah Dietrich. Williams normally enters Spielberg productions at an early stage, well before the movie starts shooting. For Minority Report however, his entry was delayed due to his work on Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, and he joined the film when it was nearly completed, leaving him scant production time. The soundtrack takes inspiration from Bernard Herrmann's work. Williams decided not to focus on the science fiction elements, and made a score suitable for film noir. He included traditional noir elements such as a female singer in the Anne Lively scenes, but the "sentimental scenes", which Williams considered unusual for that genre, led to soothing themes for Anderton's ex-wife Lara and son Sean. The track "Sean's Theme" is described as the only one "instantly recognizable as one of Williams'" by music critic Andrew Granade. Spielberg typified it as "a black and white score" and said, "I think Johnny Williams does a really nice bit of homage to Benny Herrmann."
In an interview which appeared in The New York Times, Williams said that the choices for many of the pieces of classical music were made by the studio. He also said that while he did not know why certain pieces were chosen, Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8 (commonly known as the Unfinished Symphony), which features prominently in the film, was most likely included because Anderton was a big fan of classical music in the script. Some of the other choices, such as Gideon's playing of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach on an organ in the subterranean prison, were also in the screenplay, and he figured that "[t]hey are some writer's conception of what this character might have listened to." Williams did choose the minuet from a Haydn string quartet (Op. 64, No. 1) which plays on the radio in the scene where Dr. Hineman is gardening in her greenhouse. He said he picked the piece because "[i]t seemed to me to be the kind of thing a woman like this would play on the radio." The New York Times characterized the score as "evocative" and said it was "thoroughly modern" while also being "interlaced with striking snippets of masterworks." The piece heard when Anderton is shown entering his apartment and he tells his computer system "I'm home" is the 2nd movement of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor, known as the "Pathetique" Symphony.
|Minority Report: Original Motion Picture Score|
|2.||""Can You See?""||2:12|
|3.||"Pre-Crime to the Rescue"||5:48|
|4.||"Sean and Lara"||4:46|
|6.||"The Greenhouse Effect"||5:09|
|10.||"Anderton's Great Escape"||6:47|
|11.||"Dr. Eddie and Miss Van Eych"||3:08|
|12.||"Visions of Anne Lively"||3:27|
|13.||"Leo Crow... The Confrontation"||5:55|
|14.||""Sean" by Agatha"||4:59|
|15.||"Psychic Truth and Finale"||7:10|
|16.||"A New Beginning"||3:29|
The most commonly criticized element of the film is its ending. The film has a more traditional "happy ending" which contradicts the tone of the rest of the picture. This has led to speculation that this ending is the product of John's imagination, caused by hallucinations from his forced coma after he is incarcerated. As one observer mused, "The conclusion of Minority Report strikes me as a joke Spielberg played on his detractors—an act of perfectly measured deviltry."
One critic theorized, "...[r]ather than end this Brazil-ian sci-fi dystopia with the equivalent of that film's shot of its lobotomized hero, which puts the lie to the immediately previous scene of his imagined liberation, Spielberg tries to pass off the exact same ending but without the rimshot, just to see if the audience is paying attention." Film scholars Nigel Morris and Jason P. Vest point to a line in the film as possible evidence of this. After Anderton is captured, Gideon tells him that, "It's actually kind of a rush. They say you have visions. That your life flashes before your eyes. That all your dreams come true." While Vest considers the blissful dream ending a possibility, he questions why Anderton did not imagine his son as having returned.
Buckland expressed disappointment in the ending, but blamed Frank. He felt that given the water theme, and closely tied together tragic parent-child theme, Anderton should have ended the film by taking Agatha in his care if Spielberg wanted a happy ending. Especially since "Anderton kidnaps Agatha from the precog pool just as his son was kidnapped from a swimming pool" and because Anderton could act as a "substitute parent for Agatha, and Agatha...a substitute child for Anderton." This opportunity is missed however, when the precogs are sent to the remote island, and Anderton reunites with his wife; an ending which Buckland finds more "forced" than the "more authentic" path he feels he noticed.
Minority Report is a futuristic film which portrays elements of a both dystopian and utopian future. The movie renders a much more detailed view of its future world than the book, and contains new technologies not in Dick's story. From a stylistic standpoint, Minority Report resembles Spielberg's previous film A.I., but also incorporates elements of film noir. Spielberg said that he "wanted to give the movie a noir feel. So I threw myself a film festival. Asphalt Jungle. Key Largo. The Maltese Falcon." The picture was deliberately overlit, and the negative was bleach-bypassed during post-production. The scene in which Anderton is dreaming about his son's kidnapping at the pool is the only one shot in "normal" color. Bleach-bypassing gave the film a distinctive look; it desaturated the film's colors, to the point that it nearly resembles a black-and-white movie, yet the blacks and shadows have a high contrast like a film noir picture. The color was reduced by "about 40%" to achieve the "washed-out" appearance. Elvis Mitchell, formerly of The New York Times, commented that "[t]he picture looks as if it were shot on chrome, caught on the fleeing bumper of a late '70s car."
Cinematographer Janusz Kamiński shot the movie with high-speed film, which Spielberg preferred to the then-emerging digital video format. The movie's camera work is very mobile, alternating between handheld and Steadicam shots, which are "exaggerated by the use of wide angle lenses and the occasional low camera angle" to increase the perception of movement according to film scholar Warren Buckland. Kamiński said that he never used a lens longer than 27mm, and alternated between 17, 21, and 27mm lenses, as Spielberg liked to "keep the actors as close to the camera as possible". He also said, "We staged a lot of scenes in wide shots that have a lot of things happening with the frame." The duo also used several long takes to focus on the emotions of the actors, rather than employing numerous cuts. Spielberg eschewed the typical "shot reverse shot" cinematography technique used when filming characters' interactions in favor of the long takes, which were shot by a mobile, probing camera. McDowell relied on colorless chrome and glass objects of curved and circular shapes in his set designs, which, aided by the "low-key contrastive lighting", populated the film with shadows, creating a "futuristic film noir atmosphere".
Buckland describes the film's 14 minute opening sequence as the "most abstract and complex of any Spielberg film." The first scene is a distorted precog vision of a murder, presented out of context. The speed of the film is sped up, slowed, and even reversed, and the movie "jumps about in time and space" by intercutting the images in no discernible order. When it ends, it becomes clear that the scene was presented through Agatha's eyes, and that this is how previsions appear to her. Fellow scholar Nigel Morris called this scene a "trailer", because it foreshadows the plot and establishes the type of "tone, generic expectations, and enigmas" that will be used in the film. The visions of the pre-cogs are presented in a fragmented series of clips using a "squishy lens" device, which distorts the images, blurring their edges and creating ripples across them. They were created by a two-man production team, hired by Spielberg, who chose the "layered, dreamlike imagery" based on some comments from cognitive psychologists the pair consulted. In the opening's next scene, Anderton is "scrubbing the images", by standing like a composer (as Spielberg terms it), and manipulating them, while Jad assists him. Next the family involved in the murder in Agatha's vision is shown interacting, which establishes that the opening scene was a prevision. The picture then cuts back to Anderton and the precogs' images, before alternating between the three. The opening is self-contained, and according to Buckland acts merely as a setup for numerous elements of the story. It lasts 14 minutes, includes 171 shots, and has an average shot length of five seconds as opposed to the 6.5 second average for the entire film. The opening's five-second average is attained despite "very fast cutting" in the beginning and ending, because the middle has longer takes, which reach 20 seconds in some instances. Spielberg also continues his tradition of "heavily diffused backlighting" for much in the interior shots.
Spielberg typically keeps the plot points of his films closely guarded before their release, and Minority Report was no different. He said he had to remove some scenes, and a few "F-words" to get the film's PG-13 rating. Following the disappointing box office results of Spielberg's A.I., the marketing campaign for Minority Report downplayed his role in the movie and sold the film as a Cruise action thriller.
Tom Rothman, chairman of the film's co-financier Fox Filmed Entertainment, described the film's marketing strategy thus: "How are we marketing it? It's Cruise and Spielberg. What else do we need to do?" The strategy made sense; coming into the film, Spielberg had made 20 films which grossed a domestic total of $2.8 billion, while Cruise's resume featured 23 films and $2 billion in domestic revenues. With their combined 30% take of the film's box office though, sources such as BusinessWeek's Ron Grover predicted the studios would have a hard time making the money needed to break even. Despite the outward optimism, as a more adult-oriented, darker film than typical blockbusters, the studio held different box office expectations for the movie than they would a more family friendly film. Entertainment Weekly projected the film would gross $40 million domestic in its opening weekend, and Variety predicted that the high concept storyline would not appeal to children and would render it a "commercial extra-base hit rather than a home run."
Minority Report's world premiere took place in New York City on June 19, 2002. An online "popcorn cam" broadcast live from inside the premiere. Cruise attended the London premiere the following week, and mingled with thousands of adoring fans as he walked through the city's Leicester Square. It debuted at first place in the U.S. box office, collecting $35.677 million in its opening weekend. Forbes considered those numbers below expectations, as they gave the film a small edge over Lilo & Stitch, which debuted in second place ($35.260 million). Lilo & Stitch sold more tickets, but since much of the film's attendees were children, its average ticket price was much lower. The movie opened at the top of the box office in numerous foreign markets; it made $6.7 million in 780 locations in Germany its opening weekend, and accounted for 35% of France's total box office weekend office gross when it collected $5 million in 700 theaters. In Great Britain, Minority Report made $36.9 million in its first three days, in Italy, $6.2 million in its first ten, in Belgium, $815,000 in its 75 location opening weekend, and in Switzerland, $405,000 in an 80 theater opening weekend. The BBC felt the film's UK performance was "buoyed by Cruise's charm offensive at last week's London premiere." Minority Report made a total of $132 million in the United States and $226.3 million overseas.
DreamWorks spent several million dollars marketing the film's DVD and VHS releases. The campaign included a tie-in video game released by Activision, which contained a trailer for the movie's DVD. Minority Report was successful in the home video market, selling at least four million DVDs in its first few months of release. The DVD took two years to produce. For the first time, Spielberg allowed filmmakers to shoot footage on the set of one of his films. Premiere-award winning DVD producer Laurent Bouzereau, who would become a frequent Spielberg DVD collaborator, shot hundreds of hours of the film's production in the then-new high-definition video format. It contained over an hour of featurettes which discussed various aspects of film production, included breakdowns of the film's stunt sequences, and new interviews with Spielberg, Cruise, and other "Academy Award-winning filmmakers". The film was released on a two-disc Blu-ray by Paramount Pictures (now the owner of the early DreamWorks library) on May 16, 2010. It included exclusive extras and interactive features, such as a new Spielberg interview, that were not included in the DVD edition. The film was transferred from its "HD master" which retained the movie's distinctive grainy appearance.
A video game based on the film titled Minority Report: Everybody Runs was developed by Treyarch, published by Activision and released on November 18, 2002 for Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. It received mixed reviews.
The film received positive reviews. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Minority Report received 90% positive reviews based on 239 critics, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The site's critical consensus is, "Thought-provoking and visceral, Steven Spielberg successfully combines high concept ideas and high octane action in this fast and febrile sci-fi thriller." The website listed it among the best reviewed films of 2002. The film also earned an 80 out of a possible 100 on the similar review aggregating website Metacritic. Most critics gave the film's handling of its central theme (free will vs. determinism) positive reviews, and many ranked it as the film's main strength. Other reviewers however, felt that Spielberg did not adequately tackle the issues he raised. The movie has inspired significant discussion and analysis, the scope of which has been compared to the continuing analysis of Blade Runner. This discussion has advanced past the realm of standard film criticism. Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek fashioned a criticism of the Cheney Doctrine, by comparing its preemptive strike methodology to that of the film's PreCrime system.
Richard Corliss of Time said its "Spielberg's sharpest, brawniest, most bustling entertainment since Raiders of the Lost Ark". Mike Clark of USA Today felt it succeeded due to a "breathless 140-minute pace with a no-flab script packed with all kinds of surprises." Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly praised the film's visuals, and Todd McCarthy of Variety complimented the cast's performances. Film scholar Warren Buckland recommended the film, but felt that the comedic elements—aside from Stormare's lines—detracted from the plot and undermined the film's credibility.
Several critics used their reviews to discuss Spielberg and analyze what the movie signified in his development as a filmmaker. Andrew O'Hehir of the online magazine Salon expressed excitement over the atypically hard edge of the movie. "Little Steven Spielberg is all grown up now...into of all things a superior film artist...It's too early to know whether Minority Report, on the heels of A.I., marks a brief detour in Spielberg's career or a permanent change of course, but either way it's a dark and dazzling spectacle." J. Hoberman of the The Village Voice said it is "the most entertaining, least pretentious genre movie Steven Spielberg has made in the decade since Jurassic Park." Randy Shulman of Metro Weekly said that "the movie is a huge leap forward for the director, who moves once and for all into the world of adult movie making." Roger Ebert called the film a "masterpiece" and said that when most directors of the period were putting "their trust in technology", Spielberg had already mastered it, and was emphasizing "story and character" while merely using technology as a "workman uses his tools". David Edelstein of Slate echoed the positive sentiments, saying "[i]t has been a long time since a Spielberg film felt so nimble, so unfettered, so free of self-cannibalizing." Jonathan Rosenbaum, then of the Chicago Reader, was less convinced. Though he approved of the movie, he derided it in his review as a superficial action film, cautioning audiences to enjoy the movie, but not "be conned into thinking that some sort of serious, thoughtful statement is being delivered along with the roller-coaster ride."
Andrew Sarris of The New York Observer gave the film a negative review in which he described the script as full of plot holes, the car chases as silly, and criticized the mixture of futuristic environments with "defiantly retro costuming". The complexity of the storyline was also a source of criticism for Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, who considered the plot "too intricate and difficult to follow". Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail criticized Tom Cruise's performance, and though Hoberman liked the movie, he described the film as "miscast, misguided, and often nonsensical". Both Rosenbaum and Hoberman belittled the titular minority report as a "red herring". More positive reviews have seen it similarly, but referred to it as a "MacGuffin".
Awards and nominations
The film earned nominations for many awards, including Best Sound Editing at the Academy Awards, and Best Visual Effects at the BAFTAs. It was nominated for eleven Saturn Awards including Best Actor for Cruise, Best Supporting Actor for von Sydow and Best Music for Williams, and won four: Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction for Spielberg, Best Writing for Frank and Cohen and Supporting Actress for Morton. It also won the BMI Film Music Award, the Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress, and the Empire Awards for Best Actor for Cruise, Best Director for Spielberg and Best British Actress for Morton. Ebert listed Minority Report as the best film of 2002, as did online film reviewer James Berardinelli. The film was also included in top ten lists by critic Richard Roeper, and both reviewers at USA Today.
On September 9, 2014, it was announced that a follow-up television series had been given a pilot commitment at Fox. Max Borenstein will write the script and serve as executive producer alongside Spielberg, Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. The series is envisioned to be set 10 years after the movie, and will focus on a male Precog who teams up with a female detective to find a purpose to his gift. On February 13, 2015, Daniel London and Li Jun Li joined the cast. On February 24, 2015, Laura Regan was cast as Agatha Lively, replacing Samantha Morton, who was said to have been offered the return role. In March 2015, Stark Sands and Meagan Good have landed the lead roles with Sands playing the role of Dash one of the male Precogs, and Good playing Lara Vega, a detective haunted by her past, who will work with Dash to help him find a purpose for his gift, Li Jun Li will play Akeela, a CSI technician, Daniel London will reprise his role as Wally the Caretaker from the original 2002 film and Wilmer Valderrama as a police detective. The show was picked up to series by Fox on May 9, 2015, and made its broadcast debut on September 21, 2015.
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