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Minority Report
Reviewed by Dennis Morton

“I’m tired of the future.”
     
That’s my favorite line in Minority Report, a movie that’s been filling theatres across the country for several weeks. The words are uttered by a character named Agatha. She and two companions, named Dashiel and Arthur, can see into the future. When they put their heads together, almost literally, they comprise the ultimate weapon of The Pre - Crime Unit, a branch of the District of Columbia Police Department in the year 2054.
     
Minority Report is based on a short story by the great and late Philip K. Dick and reconceptualized for the big screen by Steven Speilberg. 
     
Recently I spent an hour and a half in the company of a room full of ardent movie goers. The movie we discussed was Minority Report, and by the time we were ready to disband for the evening, the film’s plot had been thoroughly eviscerated. As much as I like the movie, and I do like it, I can’t deny that there are holes in the plot. I wish they weren’t there, but in spite of them, I’m still very fond of the movie.
     
Because Minority Report has been in circulation for a while, I’ll reveal a bit more of the storyline than I usually would.
     
In 2054, a unique crime prevention program, hitherto restricted to the District of Columbia, is poised to go national. The experimental program has been designed to prevent homicides. For six years, not one murder has been committed in the DC area,
thanks to the interdiction of a crack corp of technocops. They have an edge over traditional means of preventing crime. They know when and where a homicide will occur, even before the would-be perpetrator does. In fact, the Pre-Crime Unit has been so successful that premeditated murder has been virtually eliminated. Only the occasional  “crime of passion” remains a challenge. 
     
The Pre-Crime Unit is able to incarcerate would-be murderers because it has at its disposal the services of a team of gifted seers, the only survivors of an experiment gone wrong. These damaged souls are called precogs. They’re kept floating in an aqueous solution of chemicals that enables the Pre-Crime Unit to tap into their brains and flash the precogs’ visions of impending homicides onto a translucent screen. Upon retrieval of an incriminating vision, the technocops spring into action and arrest the putative killer. The precogs have a perfect batting average - or do they.
     
The question of the precogs infallibility fuels the drama, which is played out between 
Pre-Crime Chief John Anderton, and an FBI investigator, Agent Witwer, who doesn’t share Anderton’s faith in the precogs.
     
So much for the storyline, or at least part of it.
     
What’s really fascinating about Minority Report is its vision of the near future. Product placement in the movies has never been treated with such irreverence. The corporate honchos who placed their companies’ products in Minority Report must really believe the old saw that ‘all publicity is good publicity’.
     
In Speilberg’s 2054, retinal screening is universal and ubiquitous. It might be ten o’clock at night, but don’t worry parents. If you don’t know where your children are, the state does. And it knows where you are too. And should there be any question about it,
a team of robotic spiders will creep under your door and provide an on site, forgive the pun, reading of your retina.
     
Capital punishment seems to have gone the way of dinosaurs, but the alternative doesn’t look too appealing. The accused are “haloed” and immersed in a bath of chemicals and ministered to by a guard who plays Bach on a huge pipe organ. 
     
There are nifty forms of transportation in 2054, and animated cereal boxes. But there are still subways, and, for all the obvious wealth, lots of poverty. Seems that no one has yet figured out how to share the surplus.
     
I’ve always been a sucker for films about the future. I never bother to ask what kind of fuel gets the starships from here to Zenotopia. I suspend my otherwise copious supply of disbelief. And I do so willingly with Minority Report. If you can accept a logical gap here and there, I suspect that you too will enjoy this latest Speilbergian spiel.
    
For KUSP’s Film Gang, this is Dennis Morton.

Copyright Dennis Morton 2002