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Minority Report (2002)

[Minority Report] Minority Report
DreamWorks SKG, 2002
Rated: PG-13 in the USA, 12 in the UK
Running Time: 145 minutes
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producers: Jan de Bont, Bonnie Curtis, Gerald R. Molen & Walter F. Parkes
Amazon.com: NTSC DVD, NTSC VHS
Amazon.ca: NTSC DVD
Amazon.co.uk: PAL DVD, PAL VHS
Recommended by: Greg Slade

Hollywood has had a love affair with the works of Philip K. Dick for some time. Big-budget adaptations of his works include Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (1990), and now, Minority Report.

The setting is Washington, DC fifty years in the future. It isn't a utopia, but neither is it a dystopia. For six years, the District of Columbia has been the site of an experiment called "Pre-Crime." Precognitives foresee murders before they occur, and policemen, instead of trying to solve murders after the fact, are now working to prevent them from happening in the first place. John Anderton is the chief of the Pre-Crime division. He is haunted by memories of his young son, who was kidnapped, and presumably murdered, only six months before Pre-Crime was set up. Then, one day, he sees himself killing a complete stranger in the prediction delivered by the precognitives. Surely this can't be true. Why would he kill somebody he doesn't even know? The precogs must be wrong. But if they're wrong, then Pre-Crime is flawed, and at least some of the potential murderers that he has put away were (or would have been) innocent.

I said before that Hollywood has a love affair with the works of Philip K. Dick. It would be truer to say that Hollywood has a love affair with images taken from Dick's work, as the films often don't follow the original stories, except for a couple of major elements, and even those are fairly heavily modified. This example is no different. In other words, you have to treat this film on its own merits, rather than as an adaptation of the original story, because, in essence, only the title has been retained to fool the innocent. Nevertheless, the story does work, for the most part (there are logical flaws, but for the most part, they are either essential to the plot, or else used for effect), and it raises important questions, such as predestination vs. free will (to express it in theological terms), public security vs. individual freedom, and the craving for transcendance.

The theme of transcendance comes out in the use of the word "temple" to describe the room in which the precognitives are kept, and the religious awe with which civilians regard them. (At one point, a rather sleazy character meets a precog, and he falls on his knees and starts apologising for his "sins.") Another religious issue is presented by one of Anderton's antagonists, who describes himslef as a graduate of Fuller Seminary, which is a respected evangelical theology school. (Although he is twice shown, in moments of stress, kissing what appears to be a Saint Christopher medal. Since evangelicals aren't exactly notorious for venerating saints, this is a bit incongruous. Once again, Hollywood shows that it is either incapable of distinguishing between different theological traditions, or else just doesn't care enough to "get it right.") (August, 2005)

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