Electric Dreams

The future isn't all it's cracked up to be.

If you can see the future, can you change it? And in doing so, does it still remain the future?

That's the fundamental question of "Minority Report", Spielberg's new sci-fi thriller that questions the morality of meddling with the future. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, "Minority Report" envisions a time when crime can be predicted and the criminals caught before they can execute their plans. In this futuristic scenario, the role of policeman is played by the monolithic Pre-Crime department, which relies on the visions of three telepathic humans to see crimes before they are committed.

Headed by Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise), Pre-Crime is an immense success in Washington DC; the murder rate is down to zero, the system seems infallible and the citizens are so happy that plans are afoot to take Pre-Crime to the rest of the country. Until, that is, one of the telepathic beings Pre-Crime uses fingers Anderton himself committing a murder. Forced to flee from the long arm of his own department, Anderton sets out to investigate his supposed future crime, and to see if he can avoid his own destiny, which seems mysteriously linked with the kidnapping and murder of his own son many years earlier.

Hooking up with the designer of Pre-Crime, Anderton learns of the existence of the so-called minority report, a report prepared by the telepaths in the event of a disagreement between them as to the accuracy of the murder prediction. Frantic to see if a minority report exists for him, Anderton returns to Pre-Crime HQ in a desperate attempt to save himself...

Does he succeed? I'm not telling. All I'll say is that it's after this point that "Minority Report" really gets interesting, with some very novel twists and turns. Spielberg has done a great job of making a film that combines an intriguing storyline with some incredible effects and photography to keep the viewer hooked for its entire length, and to still toss in a couple of surprises at its conclusion. Cruise is better than usual, and is well-suited to the part of the ruggedly-honest police chief who's furiously trying to resolve the temporal paradox he's been unceremoniously dumped into. One of the most intelligent movies of the year, "Minority Report" is well worth a look.

This article was first published on 25 Aug 2002.