Dr. Iris Hineman: Most of the time, all three precognitives will see things the same way but once in a while one of them will see things differently than the others. John Anderton: Jesus Christ, why didn't I know about this? Dr. Hineman: Because these "minority reports" are destroyed the instant they occur.
Minority Report is a 2002 science fiction film by Steven Spielberg, loosely based on the Philip K. Dick story "The Minority Report". It takes place in Washington, DC and Virginia in the year 2054, and centers around a new and experimental branch of the police, the "Precrime division," which tracks murders about to happen with the aid of three "precognitive" psychics who can see the future in limited flashes.Of course, things start to get tricky when one of the Precrime officers, John Anderton (Tom Cruise) gets flagged by the precogs as a future murderer. Now, he is forced to evade his own fellow officers as he tries to figure out why he would want to murder a man he's never even heard of yet...One of both Spielberg and Cruise's most successful films, not only raking in more than three times its hundred-million-dollar budget worldwide, but also scoring nearly universal acclaim from critics with a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert named it the best film of 2002.
This movie contains examples of:
Adaptational Attractiveness: In the short story, Anderton was fat, bald, and old. Additionally, the precogs looked rather more unearthly - they were described as mutatedTalkative Loons whose babblings were translated by computer into prophecies.
Adaptation Explanation Extrication: The event that kicks the plot off — Anderton's future murder — is explained as a paradox in the book; The three Precogs usually produce fairly similar visions, which is then averaged by computer modeling, but occasionally, one will have a vision distinct from the other two, usually due to the murderer's likelihood of actually committing the murder - the titular "Minority Report." If the minority report is not a murder, then the average is that the subject will commit a murder. If the minority report is a murder, then the average is that the subject will not commit a murder. In the end it is discovered that Anderton has three Minority Reports - all three Precogs saw wildly different futures. One Precog saw the future where he commits a murder, one saw a future where he does not, and the third saw a future based on decisions he makes upon seeing the other two reports yet commits the murder anyway. The two "murder" futures averaged to a "murder" prediction, but such a thing could only occur to the director of Precrime, as he is the only one who could choose to view the individual reports instead of the average assembled by computer modeling. This absolute Mind Screw is missing from the film in favor of a simpler plot; Anderton accidentally awakens a precog, who shows him a vision of her mother's murder - which was arranged by the Big Bad. Anderton retrieves the vision and shows it to the Big Bad - who then decides Anderton Knows Too Much, and hires a junkie to confess to the murder of Anderton's son, the one thing that would drive Anderton to murder.
Adult Fear: Anderton losing his son in the few seconds he looks away...
Anne Lively's daughter was more or less taken from her by the government and horribly experimented on. She is unable to save her, and is killed for her efforts.
Advert Overloaded Future: Walking down the street has become a hyperstimulating nightmare, as talking holographic advertisements use retinal scans to sell directly to you. Constantly.
And I Must Scream: Daily life for the precogs: Watching murders again and again while being drugged. When Agatha finally gets a chance to scream she promptly does so.
Batman Cold Open: Anderton and the Precrime Division arrest a man who was about to kill his wife and her lover. Also uses Danny Witwer as the Audience Surrogate during the scene to ask how everything works, getting the audience familiar with the process.
Berserk Button: "Don't you EVER SAY HIS NAME! You used the memory of my dead son to set me up! It was the one thing you knew that would drive me to murder!"
Big "NO!": Agatha, when Crow got killed anyway despite Anderton not actually doing it quite as predicted.
Bilingual Bonus: Let's just say the Back Alley Doctor is NOT very kind to his partner, who in turn is really creepy in a pervy way. Of course, you don't need to be fluent in Russian to pick up on that.
Black Comedy: Most of what Solomon says. Additionally, there's an amusing moment when Burgess has just murdered Witwer and receives a call from Lana telling him that Anderton is at her cottage. She asks Burgess not to tell Witwer, upon which Burgess glances at Witwer's body and replies "I won't say a word."
Bloody Hilarious: The scene in which Anderton accidentally drops his original eyeballs on a sloped floor and has to chase after them might as well have "Yakety Sax" playing over it, or better yet◊.
Body Motifs: Eyes are absolutely everywhere. The identification system in D.C. is based on retinal scanners. An important character is called "Iris". Names of victims and perpetrators are carved into wooden balls which resemble eyes. The Arc Words of the film are "Can you see?" And so on and so forth.
Conveniently Interrupted Document: When Anderton finally gets access to Agatha's precognition of the murder of Anne Lively, the vision plays backwards and cuts out immediately before revealing who the killer is. Anderton ignores this because the would-be killer has already been arrested and incarcerated or so he thinks.
Fake American: Averted. The seemingly American Danny Witiwer mentions how he saw his father "shot on the steps of our church in Dublin". This line was added in because Spielberg wasn't convinced Colin Farrel would be able to completely shake his Irish accent (although he does give a fairly convincing performance).
Film Noir: In interviews with Spielberg he described the film as being very much within the noir (or perhaps neo-noir) tradition, and during the pre-production phase he sat down with many classic noirs (among them The Maltese Falcon and The Asphalt Jungle) for inspiration.
Frame Up: Double subverted with Anderton, and played straight with Crow.
Fugitive Arc: Anderton goes on the lam, hoping to glean an important clue from the strongest Pre-Cog, whose visions often include significant details that the two other clairvoyants miss and clear his name.
Functional Addict: Anderton is addicted to Neroin, though this doesn't seem to hinder him in his job or in his ongoing attempt to avoid arrest and clear his name. Mostly he just uses it as a coping mechanism for his depression and severe stress.
Futuristic Superhighway: MAGLEV (magnetic levitation) highways, loosely inspired by existing train lines in China. The highways are substantially different from those in the present day, allowing some cars to drive themselves, let law enforcement easily intercept cars harboring suspected criminals by changing the vehicle's travel route and destination, and (most notable of all) drive up vertical roads.
A God I Am Not: Witwer notes that some people have begun to worship the pre-cogs as godlike, divine creatures, but Anderton very pointedly insists that they are nothing of the kind. The pre-cogs themselves, naturally, can express no opinion on the matter.
Also, something tells me that the death of Anne Lively is not the first Cold Case Lara has helped solve.
Appropriate that the guy in charge of Precrime, an organization based around preventing murders, is played by Antonius Block. Might almost qualify as a Casting Gag.
Hidden in Plain Sight: During the chase at the mall Agatha insisted they stay out in the open while a SWAT team was about to survey the entire plaza. A large collection of balloons hides them from the SWAT vantage point and they were able to sneak away, virtually in plain sight.
Idiot Ball: Anderton learns that he's been predicted to go to a specific place at a specific time to kill someone he's never met. Even though he absolutely believes in Precrime, he is convinced this particular vision is bunk because he has no motivation that he knows of. Since he's aware of where and when he will commit this murder, the logical thing to do would be to hide himself until such time that the vision is rendered invalid, at worst proving that the Precogs' vision was wrong (or, one could argue, was prevented because he himself chose to prevent it). The subsequent investigation could then be carried out at his leisure. Instead, he follows the vision to the best of his ability, thus placing him in that situation and allowing himself to be easily framed.
In Name Only: The short story has the exact oppositemessage, with Anderton willingly going away (to a much less dystopian sentence) to preserve an otherwise perfect system - the inaccurate precog reports, for paradox-related reasons, could only ever have happened to the guy who personally read them.
Irish Priest: Witwer spent a year in seminary before joining the police.
Ironic Nursery Tune: The Back Alley Doctor's nurse sings the Swedish nursery song Små grodorna ("Small frogs") with the original Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de ("no ears, no ears, no tails they have") replaced by Ej ögon, ej ögon ("no eyes they have").
Lawman Gone Bad: The trope is both subverted and played straight. For a while, it seems as if John Anderton will become a murderer, since he's already abusing illegal drugs to cope with the death of his son. In fact, it's his boss, Lamar Burgess, who has been committing murders to validate the pre-crime system.
Life Imitates Art: The transparent data tiles used by Precrime are being developed in real life.
Interestingly, those transparent data tiles are actually Iomega Clik/PocketZip disks with the metal bits (and logos) replaced with the transparent material, making this life imitating art imitating Product Placement.
Also, the multitouch technologies used by gadgets such as the iPhone have some similarity with the Pre-Crime interface.
With the iPad this is even closer. Especially to the smaller tablet-sized systems the Precrime officers use.
Magic Floppy Disk: A very retro accessory on the otherwise very futuristic computers.
Mercy Lead: Offered to Anderton by the precogs' caretaker. In this case, it comes with an extra (unremarked-upon) wrinkle - since John is wanted for a future killing, the caretaker is becoming an accessory to that murder by allowing him to go free.
Needle in a Stack of Needles: The protagonist escapes by blending into a crowd of people with similar, if not identical, umbrella design when it's raining.
No OSHA Compliance: No one's on duty in the fully-automated Lexus plant, at the very least to hit a cutoff switch when a man wanders onto the assembly line. Oddly enough this doesn't occur to any of the police charged with delivering a suspect safely as possible, either.
Non-Linear Character: Agatha is so used to seeing nothing but the future that after Anderton breaks her out of Precrime she has to ask him "Is this now?", as it's been so long since she's seen the present.
Oh Crap: When the precogs predict Leo Crowe's murder by Anderton, their caretaker offers him a Mercy Lead. On the way out, Anderton gets stuck in an elevator with Danny Witwer, the Internal Affairs agent. Witwer confronts Anderton about his neuroin addiction, and Anderton in turn accuses Witwer of framing him and pulls a gun on him.
Witwer: Come on, John, I know you're not going to kill me. I don't hear a red ball.
Naturally, this is the moment the Mercy Lead expires, and the "imminent murder" alarm goes off. Witwer reacts appropriately.
Anderton gets a very brief one when he hears that he is also charged with Danny Witwer's death right when he is haloed.
Packed Hero: Played for drama as Anderton navigates a conveyor belt, then for sheer cool as he drives off in the completed car.
Painting the Medium: Most of the film is very heavily stylized, with deliberate overlighting, high contrasts between dark and light and a very obvious blue tint to the visuals. However, when Anderton has a Flashback to bringing his son to a swimming pool, the scene is shot and lit in a more conventional, naturalistic manner.
Prison Rape: Solomon says that avoiding this was his main motivation behind spending so much time in the prison library during his incarceration in Baltimore.
Product Placement: In the future we will shop at the Gap, eat Burger King, drink Guinness, and pay for it with American Express. And the best part is, none of their logos have changed in the last 50 years. When Anderton looks at his watch, you can see that it is a Bvlgari. However, through most of the film, he's wearing a different watch altogether and we don't notice it because we don't see the logo.
Though some of it is to show how ads are everywhere in this world without privacy.
Also: the ads know your name, your buying history, your basic medical vital stats (at the moment you walk past) like pulse and respiration rate, and...?
Spielberg did this on purpose to show exactly how invasive it could get. It may or may not have had the same effect with made-up products, but then the studio would've had to pay someone to make up products. This way they get verisimilitude and sponsorship money.
Reading Your Rights: Very powerfully invoked here, since Anderton was wrestling for a very long time over whether or not he was going to shoot the man he suspected of kidnapping his son. The cop side won.
Screw Destiny: Stated to be simple in the scene where Anderton rolls a ball across a table, stating that changing the future does not change the intent behind people's actions. What is HARD is Taking A Third Option.
Scry vs. Scry: In the book, the key paradox is a result of this, because the third report tries to take into account the fact that the director of Precrime can read the reports, causing everything to bork up.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The main point of criticism of the film was that the idealistic happy ending stood in stark, jarring contrast to the dark tone of the rest of the film, to the point that it seems completely out of place. Unsurprisingly, a popular alternative interpretation of the film sprung up to counteract this. Where the viewer sits on the scale will probably determine which interpretation they find more plausible.
Soft Glass, Sheet of Glass, Dramatic Shattering, etc: Considering this future has things like precognition, holographic storage, an automated maglev transport system and other technologically advanced things, they apparently can't make glass that doesn't shatter with the slightest impact.
In the arrest of Howard Marks, the precrime cops crash through a skylight, sending shards of glass all over the room, especially all over the wife and lover who were directly underneath. Then, Anderton throws Marks onto the bed, which is covered in shattered glass. If this were real life, Marks should have been bloodied up a little bit. Unless all glass in the future shatters without sharp bits, like car windshields. Plausible, but expensive.
Spiritual Successor: With its classically philosophical and futuristic themes, and its running motifs applied to eyes, while also being based on a story by Philip K. Dick, this could be considered to be an example of this trope for Blade Runner.
Spit Take: The other sandwich/milk combo in the fridge.
Spotting the Thread: The key to an objective observation of the minority report of the death of Agatha's mother was that with the supposed duplicate murder the water was rippling in a different direction, thereby occured at a different time of day.
Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Witver. He's obsessed with finding the flaw in Precrime, but drug abuse is a legit reason for busting Anderton and he doesn't blame Anderton for being framed for Crow's murder when he sees the forged evidence.
Tech Marches On: With the advent of the Kinect, it seems kinda silly that people need to wear that glove to use the computer in the Precrime office, although it could be argued it is used to prevent interference from other people(like when Anderton throws the previsions to the corner of the screen wen he goes to shake Witver's hand).
Justified, for now, in that real-life gestural systems require the use of a glove in order to resolve more detailed gestures more quickly than devices like the Kinect.
Although it seems a little odd that sometime in the future we seem to lose the ability to transfer data wirelessly.
Looks more like a security measure; though Precrime only gets on-the-spur-of-the-moment red balls as of the time of the film, back when they got premeditated brown balls regularly it would have been quite obvious not to put previsions of crimes in the cloud, as conspirators might attempt to spy on Precrime in order to get away with murders; the "Temple" is almost certainly a Faraday cage, and the insistence on hardware-to-hardware data transfer makes it harder for someone to steal previsions. Of course, that just means that Burgess used his inside access to pull off his "perfect murders".
The man arrested for pre-murder at the start of the film is seen retrieving a printed newspaper from his lawn. It's even delivered by an old-school delivery boy on a bike. This for a guy who, judging by his apparent age and the film's 2054 date, might well be researching online news sites for his first school project in 2013.
True Companions: Anderton's team fills this role, obviously caring for him. Fletcher looks almost in tears when they come to arrest him. In the ensuing Chase Scene, Anderton works very hard not to harm them, and largely succeeds.
Unnaturally Blue Lighting: This movie uses it extensively. Most scenes have it, and the intensity varies from a light dusting to complete submersion - it is a classic modern example of the trope.
Lampshaded by Iris Hineman - Anderton cuts himself on a plant in her garden which produces a hallucinogenic toxin, and she tells him that Anderton will soon see a marvellous display of blue objects (by this stage, the audience will have seen little else besides).
Utopia Justifies the Means: Burgess tries to get Anderton to see things his way on how many people they've saved thanks to Precrime, and how many people they could have saved with it, including his son.
Video Phone: They're even installed in future cars, and since cars can drive themselves, people in using the video phone in the car can commit themselves entirely to the phone call and not have to pay attention to the road.
Vomiting Cop: Anderton deflects a "sick stick" attack into another cop, causing immediate projectile vomiting.
Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Anderton is apparently forgiven for all the other crimes he committed in attempting to prove he didn't murder anyone. To his credit, when he's fighting off the Precops, he goes out of his way not to harm any of them, going so far as to double check that one had a good grip on a fire escape after he swiped his jetpack and before letting go of him. And the authorities can't exactly prosecute him without describing exactly how much of a fool he made them look.
Not to mention revealing Burgess' murder of Agatha's mother.
The video game goes full Selective Condemnation, where you can murder 60+ police officers and others by shooting them, beating them to death, and throwing them off of buildings or into acid and fires, but the only thing people care about is the crime you're framed for.
You Can't Fight Fate: Subverted in John's case. Precog Agatha tells Anderton, "You always have a choice." Then the guy grabs the gun and dies anyway.
As Danny Witwer points out, the entire concept of Precrime is about succeeding at fighting fate. The Precogs are always wrong because the murders are prevented.