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Minority Report

September 14, 2015

MRIn the Washington DC of the mid-21st century, a controversial crime prevention method is being tested by the aptly-named Department of Precrime, under the leadership of Director Lamar Burgess (Max von Sydow). The psychic abilities of genetically engineered people (“precogs”) are used, through computer technology, to provide data about future crimes. This allows the arrest and sentencing of people for crimes yet to be committed. FBI agent Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) is sent to give the system final approval before it goes nationwide.

Meanwhile, Precrime cop John Anderton (Tom Cruise) discovers an anomaly in the system and, soon afterwards, he is himself identified as a future killer. Forced to go on the run, Anderton seeks out Dr Iris Hineman (Lois Smith), the scientist who first developed the precogs. He is told that occasionally one of the precogs sees a future crime in a different way, representing a possible different destiny for a would-be perpetrator of a crime. Hunted as a fugitive, Anderton eventually proves his innocence, exposing the identity of the real villain and a conspiracy at the heart of the Department of Precrime. The project is closed down and the precogs are allowed to adjust to living normal lives.

Genetic engineering – The precogs have been developed for political and commercial ends, their dignity as human beings ignored and abused.

Freedom to choose – The Precrime initiative assumes a future over which people have no control. It flies in the face of belief in human freedom.

Fate – People are pre-judged on the basis that their future crimes are foreseen.

John Anderton visits the precogs’ chamber. His colleagues speak of being “more like the clergy” in terms of their involvement with people’s destiny.

In the scene where John kidnaps Agatha, Danny Witwer asks, “How much time do we have?” (Asking how much time until John commits the murder). A Pre-Crime Officer responds, “51 minutes 28 seconds.” This is exactly how much time remains until the end of the movie as well (until the credits begin to roll).

At the police station, the officers talk about the metaphysical proof of precognition. Chief Anderton rolls a red ball along a table to demonstrate the law of cause and effect to Det. Witwer. All of this is an allusion to the famous claim of philosopher David Hume (1711-1776), that by observing billiard balls you can actually demonstrate that cause and effect does not exist but is merely a habitually created fiction of the mind.

When Gideon says that the contained prisoners are “busy, busy, busy,” this may be a reference to ‘Cat’s Cradle’ by ‘Kurt Vonnegut’: “‘Busy, busy, busy,’ is what we Bokononists whisper whenever we think of how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.”

John Anderton: [about Witwer’s father] What does he think about your chosen line of work?
Danny Witwer: I don’t know. He was shot and killed when I was 15 on the steps of our church in Dublin. I know what it’s like to lose someone close, John. ‘Course, nothing is like the loss of a child. I don’t have any children of my own, so I can only imagine what that must’ve been like. To lose your son – in such a public place like that. At least now you and I have the chance to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen to anyone…
John Anderton: Why don’t you cut the cute act, Danny boy, and tell me exactly what it is you’re looking for?
Danny Witwer: Flaws.
John Anderton: There hasn’t been a murder in 6 years. There’s nothing wrong with the system, it is perfect.
Danny Witwer: [simultaneously] – perfect. I agree. But if there’s a flaw, it’s human. It always is.

Dr. Iris Henimen: Sometimes, in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.
Dr. Iris Henimen: I call it a gift, for them it was more like a big cosmic joke.
Dr. Solomon: For true enlightenment there is nothing like… well, let’s just say taking a shower while this large fellow with an attitude you couldn’t knock down with a hammer, that keeps whispering in your ear: Oh nancy, Oh nancy. Now that was a lot of fun, thank you so very much John for putting me in there, thank you so very much for giving me an opportunity to get to know myself much better.
Dr. Iris Henimen: It’s funny how all living organisms are alike…
[she starts crushing a mutated plant]
Dr. Iris Henimen: …when the chips are down, when the pressure is on, every creature on the face of the Earth is interested in one thing and one thing only.
Dr. Iris Henimen: [the plant scars her palm] Its own survival.
John Anderton: No doubt the precogs have already seen this.
Lamar Burgess: No doubt.
John Anderton: You see the dilemma don’t you. If you don’t kill me, precogs were wrong and precrime is over. If you do kill me, you go away, but it proves the system works. The precogs were right. So, what are you going to do now? What’s it worth? Just one more murder? You’ll rot in hell with a halo, but people will still believe in precrime. All you have to do is kill me like they said you would. Except you know your own future, which means you can change it if you want to. You still have a choice Lamar. Like I did.



Director Burgess: Who’s the victim?
John Anderton: Somebody.
Director Burgess: Who?
John Anderton: [trying to remember the name] Somebody. Leo Crow.
Director Burgess: Who is he?
John Anderton: I have no idea! I’ve never heard of him! But I’m supposed to kill him in less than thirty-six hours.
Rufus Riley: [to Agatha] Those thoughts about my cousin Elena, those were *just* – *thoughts*!
Danny Witwer: What does he want with a Pre-Cog?
Wally the Caretaker: [hysterical] What do you think? So he can kill whoever he wants without anyone knowing about it!

John Anderton
: Why’d you catch that?
Danny Witwer: Because it was going to fall.
John Anderton: You’re certain?
Danny Witwer: Yeah.
John Anderton: But it didn’t fall. You caught it. The fact that you prevented it from happening doesn’t change the fact that it was *going* to happen.

Dr. Iris Henimen: The Precogs are never wrong. But, occasionally… they do disagree.

John Anderton: No. You said so yourself. There is no minority report, I don’t have an alternate future. I am going to kill this man.
Dr. Solomon: Now, you understand I can’t just give you new irises. Because if I do, the retinal scans will read the scar tissue, alarms will go off, and large men with guns will appear.
Lamar Burgess: My father once told me, “We don’t choose the things we believe in; they choose us.”

Pre-Crime Public Service Announcer: Imagine, a world without, murder. 6 years ago, the homicidal rates had reached epidemic proportions. It seemed that only a miracle could stop the blood shed, but instead of 1 miracle, we were given 3, the precognitives. Within 3 months of the precrime program, the homicidal rates in the District of Columbia had reduced 90 percent.
Lamar Burgess: 6 Years in the precrime prgram, and there hasn’t been a single murder.
Pre-Crime Public Service Announcer: Now, the system can work for you.
Attorney General Nash: We want to make sure that this great system is what will keep us safe will also keep us free.
Pre-Crime Public Service Announcer: On April 24, vote yes on the national Precrime initiative.
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