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Minority Report is a science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick. It is set primarily in Washington, D.C.marker 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 Precrime officer John Anderton, Colin Farrell as Department of Justicemarker agent Danny Witwer, Samantha Morton as the senior precog Agatha, and Max von Sydow as Anderton's superior Lamar Burgess. The film has a distinctive look, featuring high contrast for dark colors and shadows, resembling film noir.

Minority Report was one of the best reviewed films of 2002, and was nominated for and won several awards. These included an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Editing, and four Saturn Awards, including Best Science Fiction Film and Best Direction. Produced on a budget of $102 million, the film was also a commercial success, earning more than three times that in worldwide box office returns and selling four million DVDs in its first few months of release.

Plot

In 2054, John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is a member of an experimental Washington, D.C.marker police force known as Precrime, which uses future visions generated by three "precogs", mutated humans with precognition abilities, to stop murders. Visions from their minds are displayed on screens for Anderton and Precrime to view; while the precogs are able to provide the names of the victims and perpetrators and the time of the murders, other facts (chiefly the location) must be deduced by sorting through the images manually. The beginning of the film shows Anderton successfully stopping a man from murdering his adulterous wife and lover; because the Precrime project is public knowledge, crimes are rarely premeditated, with the majority of murders now being crimes of passion that are decided on the spot (the precogs tend to detect these late; in this case, Anderton only had about 30 minutes to figure out the location, travel there, and apprehend the criminal). Due to the unit's actions, D.C. has been essentially murder-free for six years. Though chief of the force, Anderton has been addicted to an illegal psychoactive drug since the disappearance of his son Sean (Dominic Scott Kay), which also caused his wife Lara (Kathryn Morris) to leave him. With the Precrime concept poised to go nationwide, the system is audited by Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell), a member of the Department of Justicemarker. Witwer is doubtful on the legality of the system, pointing out that stopping future crimes essentially changes the future and creates a paradox. During the audit, the precogs predict that Anderton will murder a man named Leo Crow (Mike Binder) in 36 hours; believing the incident to be a setup by Witwer, who is aware of Anderton's addiction, and given the fact Anderton doesn't even know Crow, Anderton attempts to hide the case and quickly departs the area before Witwer begins a manhunt for him. Anderton seeks the advice of Dr. Iris Hineman (Lois Smith), the lead researcher of the Precrime technology. She explains to Anderton that the three precogs—the children of drug addicts using experimental drugs years ago—may see different visions of the future. When this happens, the system only provides data on the two reports which agree; a "minority report", showing the futures where the perpetrators may not have actually committed a murder, is discarded. According to Dr. Hineman, the female precog Agatha (Samantha Morton) is likely the one who witnesses the minority reports.

Anderton has his eyes surgically replaced to avoid iris recognition scanners before travelling back to Precrime and kidnapping Agatha. This also disables the precogs' hive mind and prevents the system from being used. Anderton takes Agatha to a hacker, who is able to extract both Agatha's vision of Crow's murder—which reveals John's case lacks a minority report—and another depicting the murder of a woman named Anne Lively (Jessica Harper), which Agatha also showed to Anderton the day before he was incriminated. In an attempt to outrun the police, Anderton and Agatha end up at the apartment building where Crow is to be killed. Anderton breaks into Crow's room and finds hundreds of pictures of children, including his son, on Crow's bed, leading him to conclude that Crow is the man responsible for Sean's disappearance. When Crow arrives, Anderton holds him at gunpoint, but ultimately decides to control his anger and place Crow under arrest. Crow admits that he was hired to plant the photos and be killed so his family would be paid handsomely; realizing Anderton will no longer kill him, Crow grabs the officer's hand, making him fire at point-blank range, and dies. After assessing Crow's "murder", Witwer doubts that Anderton killed in cold blood, and approaches the Precrime division's director Lamar Burgess (Max von Sydow) at Anderton's apartment. Witwer, who has also discovered Agatha's recording of the Anne Lively murder, points out that it differs slightly from the original recording and observes that someone must have manipulated the system to fake the murder. Witwer deduces that it would have be someone high up in Precrime to have access to the precog visions, to which Burgess then kills Witwer with Anderton's gun. Because Agatha is with Anderton, Precrime is unable to detect the murder.

Anderton approaches his wife Lara, from whom he is separated, for refuge, and realizes that his knowledge of the Lively case is why he is being targeted: Lively was Agatha's mother, and shortly after her request to see her daughter again, Lively was never heard from again, despite an earlier attempt on her life failing when it was predicted by the precogs. The Precrime unit eventually captures Anderton and restores Agatha to the system. Burgess attempts to comfort Lara, but accidentally reveals that he knows more about Lively's death than implied. Lara uses this information to free Anderton.

At a banquet to celebrate the success of the Precrime unit and Burgess, Anderton plays Agatha's vision of the Lively murder for the gathered crowd, clearly showing Burgess as the murderer. Anderton explains that Burgess had hired a drifter to kill Lively, only to have it prevented by Precrime. Having viewed the precog vision, Burgess had then killed Lively in the exact same way as in the vision. Because precogs sometimes experience relapses of past murders, or "echoes," Precrime had put off this new murder to be an echo (Witwer had known the two visions to be separate murders after noticing water lapping in opposite directions). As Burgess sneaks off to confront Anderton to silence him of the Lively murder, a new precrime report is created: Anderton is the victim and Burgess is the murderer. When Burgess finds Anderton, Anderton says it's over and presents him with an no-win situation: if Burgess kills Anderton, he proves the system works but at the cost of his incarceration, while if he does not, the system will not have worked and the Precrime division will be shut down. Anderton reveals the fundamental flaw of the system: if one knows his or her own future, he or she can change it. Burgess resolves the paradox by killing himself. Anderton and Lara try to have another baby and get back together. The Precrime program is shut down, all those jailed as a result of Precrime are paroled and released and the precogs are given the chance to lead a full life. The film ends with the precogs themselves living together in a cabin on a remote island, far from anyone who would trouble them with visions.

Cast and characters

  • Tom Cruise as Chief John Anderton: A middle-aged, divorced head of the Department of Precrime in Washington, D.C. The disappearance of his son has impacted him emotionally, and he is addicted to drugs to dull the pain of his loss, he is captured for the murder of Witwer and later freed by Lara.
  • Max Von Sydow as Director Lamar Burgess: An elderly official in the Washington, D.C. Precrime program and Anderton's superior.
  • Colin Farrell as Danny Witwer: A cocky Department of Justice agent sent to observe and evaluate the Precrime process, he is later killed by Burgess.
  • Steve Harris as Jad: Oversees the precogs and helps Anderton interpret their visions.
  • Neal McDonough as Gordon Fletcher: A Precrime officer who works alongside Anderton.
  • Samantha Morton as Agatha: The lead precog, who has the most powerful psychic abilities of the three. All the precogs are named after mystery writers: Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Dashiell Hammett.
  • Lois Smith as Dr. Iris Hineman: One of the pioneers of the Precrime program, who has retired.
  • Kathryn Morris as Lara: Anderton's ex-wife and the mother of his missing son.
  • Peter Stormare as Eddie Solomon: A shady Swedish doctor who uses the same drug as Anderton.
  • Mike Binder as Leo Crow: A man whom Anderton is supposed to kill, according to the precogs and he is killed by Anderton on his pressures.


Production

Development

The original story by Philip K. Dick had previously been adapted as a potential sequel to the 1990 film Total Recall by writers Ronald Shusett and Gary Goldman (later joined by Robert Goethals). They changed the setting to Mars with the precogs being people mutated by the Martian atmosphere, as established in the first film. The main character was also changed to Douglas Quaid, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character. The project eventually fell through, but the writers, who still owned the rights to the original story, rewrote the script, removing the elements taken from Total Recall. This script was discarded in 1997, when writer Jon Cohen was hired to start the project over from the beginning.


In 1998, Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise joined Minority Report and announced the production as a joint venture of 20th Century Fox, Spielberg's DreamWorks SKGmarker, Cruise's Cruise-Wagner Productions and Jan de Bont's production company, Blue Tulip. Spielberg however stated that despite being credited, De Bont never became involved with the film. 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 screenwriter Scott Frank to rework Cohen's script. John August did an uncredited draft for polishing, and Frank Darabont was also invited to rewrite, but was by then busy with The Majestic. The film was next delayed 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 originally 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, owing to the delays, all the roles other than Cruise had to be recast.

In 1999, Spielberg invited fifteen experts convened by Global Business Network and its chairman, Peter Schwartz (and the demographer and journalist Joel Garreau), to a hotel in Santa Monica, Californiamarker to brainstorm and flesh out details of a possible "future reality" for the year 2054. The experts included Stewart Brand, Peter Calthorpe, Douglas Coupland, Neil Gershenfeld, biomedical researcher Shaun Jones, Jaron Lanier, and former MITmarker architecture dean William J. Mitchell. While the discussions did not change key elements needed for the film's action sequences, they were influential in introducing some of the more utopian aspects of the film, though John Underkoffler, the science and technology advisor for the film, described the film as "much grayer and more ambiguous" than what was envisioned in 1999.

Some of the technologies depicted in the film were later developed in the real world – for example, multi-touch interfaces are similar to the glove-controlled interface used by Anderton. Conversely, while arguing against the lack of physical contact in touch screen phones, PC Magazine's Sascha Segan argued in February 2009, "This is one of the reasons why we don't yet have the famous Minority Report information interface. In that movie, Tom Cruise donned special gloves to interact with an awesome PC interface where you literally grab windows and toss them around the screen. But that interface is impractical without the proper feedback—without actually being able to feel where the edges of the windows are."

Filming

Filming took place between March 22 and July 18, 2001, in Washington, D.C., Virginiamarker, and Los Angelesmarker. Film locations included the Ronald Reagan Buildingmarker (as Precrime headquarters) and Georgetownmarker. The skyline of Rosslyn, Virginiamarker is visible when Anderton flies across the Potomac River.

Spielberg decided that to be more credible, the setting had to keep both elements of the present and what the specialists imagined for the future. Thus Washington, D.C. as depicted in Minority Report keeps well-known buildings such as the Capitolmarker 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 for his work in Fight Club, and storyboards for a film version of Fahrenheit 451 which would star Mel Gibson. McDowell studied modern architecture, and created sets with many curves 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. While the scientists and McDowell did not originally think of the jetpacks worn by the policemen, which they considered less than realistic, Spielberg decided to add them as a tribute to old science-fiction serials such as Commando Cody. Product placement was used, mostly to depict the lack of privacy and excessive publicity in the future society.Nokia designed the phones used by the characters, and Lexus paid the producers $5 million to design the futuristic cars.

The stunt crew was the same one used in Cruise's Mission: Impossible II, and was responsible for complex action scenes. These included the chase in a car factory, which was filmed in a real facility using props such as a welding robot, and the fight between Anderton and the jetpack-wearing officers, for which an alley set was built in the Warner Bros. studio lot, with the actors suspended by cables. Industrial Light & Magic did most of the special effects, with DreamWorks-owned PDI being responsible for the Spyder robots. The company Pixel Liberation Front did previsualization animatics. The holographic projections and the prison facility were developed by filming actors with different cameras that surrounded them, and the scene where Anderton gets off his car and runs along the Maglev vehicles was filmed with stationary props, later replaced with computer-generated vehicles.

Storyline differences

Many aspects of the original Philip K. Dick story were adapted in its transition to film, such as the addition of Lamar Burgess and the change in setting from New York Citymarker to Washington, D.C., Baltimoremarker, 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 precogs were retarded and deformed individuals in the story, but descendants of drug addicts in the film. Anderton's future murder and the reasons for the conspiracy were changed from a general who wants to discredit Precrime in order to get more military financing back, to a man who murdered a precog's mother in order to preserve Precrime, with the subsequent murders and plot developing from this.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.

Music

The score was composed and conducted by John Williams and orchestrated by John Neufeld, with vocals by Deborah Dietrich. The soundtrack takes much inspiration from Bernard Hermann's work. Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8 (commonly known as the Unfinished Symphony) features prominently in the film. Williams decided not to focus on the science fiction elements, and made a score suitable for an actual film noir, with elements such as a female singer in the Anne Lively scenes. But the "sentimental scenes", which Williams considered something unusual for that genre, led to soothing themes for Anderton's ex-wife Lara and son Sean.

Themes

The main themes of Minority Report are the classic philosophical questions surrounding foreknowledge and free will vs. 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." Ironically, this paradox of choice also presents a personal paradox, as if Anderton choses not to kill Crow, pre-crime is thrown into doubt, but if he chooses to kill Crow, he proves that the system works, but at the cost of his own life. Spielberg also mentioned that the lack of free will mentioned in the movie had some real world background, saying that "We’re giving up some of our freedom so that the government can protect us." Most critics gave this element of the film positive reviews, with many ranking it as the main strength of the film. Other reviewers however, felt that Spielberg did not adequately deal with the issues that he raised.

Style

Minority Report is a futuristic film which portrays elements of a both dystopian and utopian future. It renders a much more detailed view of a near-term future world than that present in the original short story, with depictions of a number of technologies related to the film's themes. The scene in which Anderton is dreaming about his son's kidnapping at the pool is shot in "normal" color.

From a stylistic standpoint, Minority Report resembles Spielberg's previous film A.I. The picture was deliberately overlit, and the negative was bleach-bypassed during post-production. This gave the film a distinctive look, with colors desaturated, yet the blacks and shadows have a high contrast, looking almost like a film noir picture. Elvis Mitchell, formerly of the 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."

Reception

Minority Report debuted at first place in the U.S. box office, collecting $35.677 million in its opening weekend, and a total of $132 million in the United States and $226.3 million overseas. It was also successful in the home video market, selling at least four million copies in its first few months of release on DVD. The film's reviews were generally highly positive. Review tallying website Rotten Tomatoes called it "an intelligent and visually imaginative film that ranks among Spielberg's best" and gave it a score of 92%, while it earned an 80 out of a possible 100 on Metacritic. Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, and described it in his review as "...a triumph--a film that works on our minds and our emotions." Richard Corliss of Time described the film as "Spielberg's sharpest, brawniest, most bustling entertainment since Raiders of the Lost Ark". Mike Clark of USA Today said the film had 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.

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, with Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine feeling that "the script raises moral questions it doesn't probe", and Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times considering the plot "too intricate and difficult to follow". Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail criticized Tom Cruise's performance, and J. Hoberman of The Village Voice described the film as "miscast, misguided, and often nonsensical".

The film earned nominations for many awards, including Best Sound Editing in the Academy Awards and Best Visual Effects in the BAFTA. Among the awards won were four Saturn Awards (Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction, Best Screenplay and Supporting Actress for Samantha Morton), the BMI Film Music Award, the Online Film Critics Society for Supporting Actress and the Empire Awards for Actor, Director and British Actress. Roger 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. Michael Phillips placed Minority Report at number 10 on his list of Best Film of the Decade.

See also



References

  1. Minority Report film locations
  2. "Deconstructing Minority Report", Minority Report Special Edition DVD, Disc 2
  3. "The Stunts of Minority Report", Minority Report Special Edition DVD, Disc 2
  4. "IL&M and Minority Report", Minority Report Special Edition DVD, Disc 2
  5. "Minority Report: From Story to Screen"; Minority Report Special Edition DVD, Disc 2


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