Minority Report is a 2002 American science fiction action film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise, and loosely based on the 1956 short story “The Minority Report” by Philip K. Dick. The picture is set in Washington, D.C.
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 characterised 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 perennial theme of broken families.
In April 2054, the federal government is planning to implement Washington, D.C.‘s prototype “PreCrime” police program on a national level. As three clairvoyant humans (“Precogs”) visualise details of an impending homicide, officers analyse the data in order to determine the crime’s location and apprehend the perpetrator before the crime can occur.
The Precogs lie floating in a pool, under sleep-inducing drugs to deprive them of external stimulus and their thoughts are projected onscreen and stored in a database. Would-be killers are immediately imprisoned in a benevolent virtual reality state. Although PreCrime has eliminated nearly all premeditated murders during the six years of its existence, spontaneous “crimes of passion” are still problematic, as the police have limited time to intercept the killer.