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The laws of free will
- The scene in the beginning in which Anderton uses the ball that Witwer catches when it's about to hit the floor as a metaphor for how pre-crime works has been bugging me. He claims that the fact that Witwercaught the ball and prevented the ball from falling doesn't change the fact that the ball was going to fall. Sure, okay. But that's not comparable to human free will. The law of gravity is rigid— object isn't being held up by something, it falls. Period. That same logic can't be applied to humans— you can't say that because someone is likely to do something that it's 100% inevitable that they were going to do it... right?
- In the movie's universe, they take it as a given that previsions do in fact show you what is going to happen unless you intervene. What we later learn is that sometimes one vision contradicts the others and shows an alternate future. That's why they shut down Precrime.
No phone books?
- In the opening scene, Anderton does an elaborate ritual trying to find Howard Marks. Don't they still have phone books, or any other form of directory in 2054?
- They certainly do, but there may be dozens of Marks in the area.
- Moreover, it's specifically stated that the Marks family moved several weeks ago and none of their previous neighbors knows the family's new address.
- To this day, I'm still a little unclear as to what happened when Anderton was recovering from his eye surgery. When the spider-bot read his eye, was he rendered blind in that eye as the doctor told him would happen, or was the doctor just messing with him the whole time and it was fine to take the bandages off?
- Probably the doctor just overstated how long the bandages would have to be on in order to have a margin of error. Presumably, recovery time from such a surgery varies from person to person, so if it's anywhere between three hours and five, you'd tell someone "Don't take these off for five hours" just to be safe. Similar to how the listed weight limits on elevators are substantially less than the elevator's actual breaking point, so that there's some leeway.
- Based on the fact that his eyes are different colours from that point on, I always assumed that yes, he was permanently blinded in that eye.
- The eyes were a different colour because they where from someone of Japanese descent, he was not blinded but it hurt.
- I think that the troper above you was suggesting that the eyes were different colours from each other rather than from his original set he had replaced, as you had meant. I'm not sure if his new left and right were actually different colours, so I'd have to watch it again to check.
The Catch- 22 situation
- When Lamar has Anderton at gunpoint, Anterton tells him that he's in a Catch-22 Dilemma: he can either shoot him and validate Precrime, or not shoot him and invalidate Precrime. I see a third option. Lamar should have acted like he fully intended to kill Anderton and that the Precrime officers just got there in time to stop it.
- ...And this still would validate Precrime.
- Third option or not, Lamar was basically caught on tape committing murder. As far as he was concerned his only options were "go to jail" or "kill self".
- Alternate third option: What if the precogs haven't seen the crime at all? Sure, the audience knows they did. But Anderton is just guessing, when he tells Burgess, "No doubt the precogs have already seen this". What if Burgess decides not to shoot him, and the precogs have in fact not predicted anything? Pre-crime would not be invalidated and he would not be charged with that murder.
- Why didn't Lamar kidnap Agatha's mom, bring her to any city in the world not called Washington DC, and then kill her? Why the whole complicated plan to trick the precrime system when we are explicitly told that it only exists in DC?
- But that'd still be premeditated murder and the precogs would see it. He'd have to plan the whole thing out of state or months in advance.
- What if he got someone else to kill her who was never in DC?
- That's the reason he hired that guy who intended to murder her.
- The precogs can detect the murder of strangers only within the immediate DC area. Detecting the murder of her own mother may be something Agatha is capable of at a much greater distance, psychic powers being linked to emotion in most fiction.
Soft Glass everywhere?
- The part that bugged me the most was at the beginning with the arrest of Marks. Anderton threw him onto a bed covered with knife-like shards of glass. So what's the deal, in the future do they have glass that shatters like plate glass but is actually completely harmless? Why would it shatter like plate glass instead of like car windshield, which is specifically designed to not create razor-sharp blades of glass everywhere.
- Looks like regular glass, shatters like fake glass. It was a window or skylight, IIRC; if it got broken by a storm or falling branch or both, would you want razor sharp glass flying at you?
- Danny chucking a chair through the window to get to the precogs. Wouldn't they want to have stronger glass protecting what's basically the entire precog program?
- Danny is chucking the chair from the control room. Presumably you could kill the precogs from the control room, so there's little point in making the glass between it and them bullet proof.
- When Leo Crow goes through the apartment window. Ok, I will give credit to not being Blown Across the Room because it looks kind of like he stumbles backwards after he gets shot rather than actually being blown backwards by the bullet impact. But again, why would the builders make multi-story apartment with easily-shattered glass? It seems a bit like a safety un-feature to me.
- Didn't the bullet go through Crow and shatter or weaken the window before he stumbled into it?
Pre-Crime's security systems
- Why wasn't Anderton locked out of both the Precrime offices and the prisoner holding facility? You'd think the very first thing Precrime would have done is lock out his access to everything but he's able to get back in through the back door using the iris scanner. For that matter, how did he get back into the building in the first place, into such a critical area of the facility? If he had used his eyes for other iris scanners to get access, it gets downright silly that there wouldn't be alarms the very moment he used an iris scanner. Considering he's trying to get his eyes out of the storage bag only once he gets to the temple room, it seems like he didn't even need to use them until then.
- Who would be crazy enough to try and break into the police station? They probably don't have anything more sophisticated than keypads, up until that point. Alternately, Anderton simply knows the security holes. It's the same way he was able to evade the PreCops, though he presumably didn't think about it until he had to.
- About the eye-scan thing: Recall that there are scanners everywhere all over the city. You can't step on a public bus or even walk into a store without getting scanned. Since the police don't know Anderton has had his eyes switched, they think he'll have to get his eyes scanned somewhere before he gets within five miles of the Precrime offices, at which point the report would find its way back to them and they'd know where to track him. Either that or he'd have to walk around the city blindfolded, which would make him much easier to spot as well as making him basically no threat to anyone.
- So, I felt like that was what made it feel so incongruous. It seemed like the people who ran the city's computer networks were on the fucking ball. Anderton becomes a wanted murderer BOOM, every newspaper in the city has his face on it and every eye scanner is on the lookout for him. The precops are on point, all the time, they swoop in and save the day. It seemed like the city was portrayed as far too competent for a fuckup like that to happen. Then again, the precops were on the ball when they were being led by Anderton, maybe they're lost without him.
- This is a case of Truth in Television: there are uncountable cases of this happening in Real Life, people changing jobs or being fired and their credentials not being revoked for years. To the cops' credit, this is an extraordinary, never-happened-before occurrence in the young organization, they probably don't even have a procedural manual to cope with it and on top of that, Anderton moves fast.
- It's understandable that he was able to make it into the "temple" because of all this, but it became quite clear after he broke Agatha out that he's still able to get into such places. They should have taken that opportunity to lock his access, which still would have prevented his ex-wife from gaining access to the containment facility.
- Possibly they'd been hoping he might try to break in a second time, to grab the Twins as well, in which case they'd let him bypass the first layer of security and then nab him as soon as he attempted to access the Temple. The possibility that his ex-wife might drop by to steal data instead of enter the Temple wasn't taken into consideration.
About Anderton and guilt or innocence
- As far as anyone knows, Anderton is guilty of the murder of Crow. The only witness is Agatha, an unstable precog who is barely able to focus on what's happening right "now." Plus the precog record of the murder looks incontrovertible - Anderton shoots Crow. The only witness to Witwer's shooting is Burgess, who is dead. Not to mention counts of breaking and entering and let's not forget chronic drug use. He's been vilified in the public press. Did he really have that much Wrongful Accusation Insurance? I suppose there may have been automated records proving his innocence once the police started looking at camera footage of Anderton's apartment and whatnot, but why wouldn't someone have looked at that before Anderton is put away? And even so, he really was a chronic drug user.
- "Let's put this wrongfully accused man, who is friends with a lot of powerful people, on a public trial that undermines the entire foundation of the Precog system even more, and details how he was able to evade the Precops for an extended period of time. The same guy who could now sue us for millions of dollars." They'd find a really big broom, an even bigger rug, and start sweeping.
- Plus someone might finally notice that Anderton couldn't have killed Witwer because he left his gun - with which Witwer was killed - at Crow's appartment. (This is my real huge headscratcher with an otherwise fine movie, and my only explanation is, as Witwer himself points out, that the Pre-Cops don't have much classic murder investigation experience. Which is kind of a lame excuse.)
- Given that Pre-Cops rely on the visions to preempt murders and the whole purpose of Pre-Crime is to stop pre-crime before it occurs, it is very likely that the Pre-Cops focused most if not all their training on quickly identifying the target's location and stopping the crime and there was probably little if any training on solving crimes after the crime occurred. This makes sense not only because if Pre-Crime works then training to solve crimes after the crime would be irrelevant because there are no crimes to solve but also because Burgess would want to hinder any future effort by his own men to discover his own crime.
- Even if the Pre-Crime cops are as incompetent about post-death investigations as implied, surely they could tap resources from one of the non-homicide police divisions to process the crime scene. Presumably there are still regular cops on call to handle property crimes and non-fatal offenses against persons, who rely on good old-fashioned evidence rather than psychic visions. Likewise, medical examiners will still be called upon to tell accidental firearm-discharge apart from suicide, so the autopsy could help resolve the issue.
- Well consider that Witwer did take the gun and was still killed by it, albeit not by Anderton. Without the precogs, how were they supposed to know?
Source of the vision
- Where exactly did the vision of Anderton shooting Leo Crow come from? I know this is a central element of the plot, but it makes no sense. Anderton never would have tried to track down Crow without the machine showing him! And on that note, because the event happened exactly as it appeared, it looks like Anderton shooting Crow was always unintentional. Except we're told right in the beginning that the precogs can't predict accidental death, only intentional murder. Meaning that the vision should never have happened in the first place!
- It's possible the original plan was that someone was going go "accidentally" slip Anderton some information about Crow supposedly killing his son. Because of the Precogs, he learns of the act before he learns of the reason. In the short story, at least, Anderton muses that his situation is one that could only have happened to the person at the head of Precrime.
- The whole point of the final scene was that your fate isn't set in stone, and the pre-cogs aren't flawless fortune tellers. Chalk it up to that.
- It's not like the precogs predict things that actually happen - the whole point of the pre-crime program is that they predict things that ultimately don't happen, but that would if it weren't for the intervention of the precogs and their support staff. Anderton is just the only one where that process is internal(deciding not to kill) instead of external(being arrested), because he's the only would-be murderer who knows what was predicted.
- The movie goes over this when Witwer is talking to Anderton. Remember the "the ball was going to fall before you caught it" thing? It's not all that different from if, say, a cop happened upon an attempted murder while he was on patrol. He could stop the death, but it certainly would have happened if he wasn't there. Only real difference here, when you think about it, is you have a preemptive 911 call.
- OK, but here's the thing: If a murder is going to happen, the Precogs see it and Precrime stops it. So the whole point of Precrime is to "fight fate". Except with what we see in the movie, Anderton was never going to murder Leo Crow. The Precogs predicted a suicide, which is something we're told they couldn't do.
- No, they predicted a murder. It turned into a suicide when Anderton refused to fire. There's notable differences between the initial prediction and what actually happens.
- It seems so at first, but then they discover Agatha in the vision. If the vision included Agatha, than it was a suicide.
- It's how all the other cases work too: they were all going to be murders until they were prevented. This was just an odd case where the prevention ended up looking almost identical to the murder that would have transpired.
- That's exactly the catch - the others were going to become murderers, i.e. they had a murderous intent, wether defined or not. The jealous guy in the beginning must've had at least some vague ideas that he might return home, find his wife cheating on him and kill her, and the precogs detected these ideas. But Anderton had no murderous intent against Crow before the moment of the precognition whatsoever - there was nothing for the precogs to work with. We inevitably fall into an infinite recursive loop: The precogs could only make a prediction after they sensed Anderton's intention to work out the situation that was instigated solely by the precognition itself.
- Yes he did. Anderton had long fantasized about killing whoever stole his son. Just like the jealous husband didn't need to know the name or face of his cuckolder until catching him in the act, Anderton didn't need to know who the kidnapper was until stumbling on a room full of evidence that Crow was that man.
- ^^You've fallen into the most common misconception about this movie, thinking the pre-cogs read minds. They don't read minds, they read the future. The glasses-guy at the beginning didn't have any murderous intent before he found his wife in bed with another man. That's why Pre-Crime identified his case as a crime of passion rather than premeditated murder. The pre-cogs saw a vision of the future wherein the glasses-guy went back into the house to find his glasses, found his wife cheating on him, and was so filled with jealous rage that he murdered them both with a pair of scissors.
The precogs predict murder and not intervention?
- How do the precogs predict murder? They aren't predicting the future, because they would just end up predicting people getting arrested.
- They "sense" one human being's intention to kill another and see what will happen if events transpire without intervention.
- The Precogs are psychic, in the canon. Their minds are gathering vast amounts of present information about the world and extrapolating from that information the most likely future, with particular emphasis on those moments in which violent crimes will occur. Agatha and the twins never actually receive information from the future. They recognize the conjunction of certain facts and decisions in the present which are on a collision course, and then calculate the events leading from the present to that collision to achieve the outcome. It is in one sense not different from the computer models economists use every day to predict trends in the economy: if we feed it sufficient data and there are no surprises that interfere, we will get an accurate prediction of what will happen in the financial world tomorrow. The psychics have the advantage that they know the thoughts of men. They know what decisions have been made and what characteristics are likely to be activated as these play out. Thus they can predict individual actions with great accuracy. Apart from the complexity of the interacting variables, it is not different from predicting whether the collision of two moving pool balls will cause one to drop into the pocket. This explains the existence of the minority reports. It is now entirely possible for the twins to reach one conclusion and Agatha to reach another. If Agatha finds one fragment of information that the twins do not have, she could see an entirely different outcome from what they predict. If in doing the analysis she weights one decision or characteristic as more important than the other two believed, she would again reach a different vision of the future. None of them are seeing what actually happens in the future. They are creating a model of what would happen if everything continues on its present course. Those models thus differ if "everything" is not the same list with the same weight attached to each item.
Why not flee DC?
- Why didn't Anderton just get as far away from DC as possible after he saw the precognition?
- They actually bring this up in the film. The only explanation we get is Witwer saying "because he thinks he's innocent". Anderton believes in the system, and wants to find out why it's wrongly targeted him. He searches for Dr. Hineman to ask her how a pre-vision can be faked.
- Still, you'd think that the best possible (not to mention safest) way for him to prove that he's innocent and the pre-vision was somehow faked would be to get out of town. If he skips town and the murder doesn't happen, then obviously the vision was false and the Pre-Crime office would start an investigation into why. And if the system is as flawless as he thinks it is then the investigation would prove the vision was faked. So either Anderton doesn't have as much confidence in the system as the film implies or Anderton isn't the brightest bulb in the box.
- On the contrary, he is actually brilliant: as said before, he believes in the system. If he believes in the system, that means running away makes him a suspicion for the rest of his life: the murder prediction may not have an expiration date, the Pre-Crime office doesn't have a reason to start an investigation about anything. Also, he correctly deducts that he is being framed, and the system is such that, when captured, no question would be asked, he would be simply put to sleep.
- The murder prediction has not just an "expiration date" - it has a deadline. Had he laid low and waited untill the countdown runs out, he could no longer be accused of "future murder" because it would no longer be future.
- That would be irrelevant. As soon as the the precogs got the vision, Anderton was "guilty" of future crime. Yes, the crime wouldn't actually occur. But that is what happens with EVERY OTHER precrime. The precrimes never occur, they are always prevented by the Precrime unit, that is the whole point of the system. People are put to sleep because they would have committed murder, not because they did. Anderton would have killed, so he is guilty of precrime. He may have changed his mind after knowing the precogs "caught" him in the future act, and run away instead. But surely lots of people run away when the see Precrime on their tail, that doesn't help, you can't reduce your sentence by running away instead of giving yourself up.
No erased retinal scans?
- Also, why wouldn't they have erased Anderton's retinal scan from their database? The first time was bad enough, but his wife being able to use it the second time got ridiculous.
- They knew he was caught the second time, and someone probably said "I'll do it on Monday".
- Sure, but after the first time (and his escape with Agatha), even a halfway competent security team would have locked Anderton out of the system to prevent any more breaches (what if he goes after the twins next?).
- They had no reason to believe he would go after the twins. The Precogs caretaker told them Anderton took Agatha so he could kill without them knowing and that the twins are useless without Agatha.
- That doesn't mean Anderton couldn't have suspected that the Twins could be used against him, perhaps by upping the dosage of neurotransmitters and brain-stimulation they were getting to levels that would've been too risky to attempt if Agatha were available. Likewise, he might've come back for them if Agatha's visions suggested he needed to, or if he simply came to feel sorry for them after spending time with her. There's at least an outside chance he might've come back, and they might as well cover all the bases they can.
How do you take Precrime nationwide?
- How would they have taken this program national, as they're planning early on? The three Precogs seemed to be extremely rare, (and then it's said that only Agatha has the important talent). Meanwhile, the only way they could stop Howard Marks's crime was because Anderton is intimately familiar with the D.C. area. There is no way he could identify a specific house in, say, Laughlin, Nevada to get a strike team there on time.
- That is part of the horror of the entire precog program. The precogs were discovered from the futuristic equivalent of crack babies. To get more precogs to expand the program, they would need to get more young women (Like Ann Lively) hooked on drugs. Ann was killed because she wanted her daughter back.
- If there weren't more precogs, they already try to find addresses or identify people in the visions first, so I would expect they would pass the prevision off to a local authority ASAP to complete the analysis. And those local authorities would have their own strike teams.
- I was under the impression that they had some way of boosting and limiting the precogs' mental skills, via the fluid they're immersed in and the biometrics that also record what they're seeing. Also, it's established that murders are much easier to detect- when Anderton kidnaps Agatha, she only predicts events immediately surrounding her, yet she and the other children were able to detect murders miles away when they first discovered their precognition. There may have been plans to physically move the precogs to a more central location so they could provide coverage for the entire United States (but how they planned to include Alaska and Hawaii is anyone's guess-perhaps they would have invited all the other North American countries to join in so they wouldn't have to filter out their murders). And they mentioned in the films that the murder rate in the DC area had dropped almost to zero, except for crimes of passion, so they were probably relying on that happening nationally as well-but pity the poor precogs on the first day of National Precrime.
- To wit the precogs spend most of their days writhing through nightmare echoes when their sensory range is only a few dozen miles in radius-the metro DC area. Imagine the sensory overload if they tried to monitor the entire country!
- Funny thing that just occured to me: the opening murder attempt that they prevented was actually a crime of passion. The attempt at murder came from a husband stumbling onto his wife's affair when he went back to get something he forgot and saw his wife in bed with another man.
- It's pretty clear from his dialogue with his wife that he suspects this already and purposely left his glasses there to see if he was correct
- It seems pretty clear that — the tour guide's cheery spiel notwithstanding — the precogs aren't seen as fully human, but more like talented chattel.
- Of course it's a crime of passion. The movie comes right out and says it's a crime of passion, and that's what Red Balls mean.
- Possibly there are othe precogs in other parts of the US that were the result of the same designer drugs that created the three in DC - they just aren't part of a Pre-Crime unit yet. The expansion of Pre-Crime would have involved basically enslaving those precogs just like the three in DC. A small price to pay for eliminating the possibility of murder, right?
Anderton's drug use and there's no sequel?
- Where's my sequel? This movie did pretty good, and as I was watching, I noticed a huge sequel hook (Anderton using the same drug that can lead to your children being precog, AND his child being missing). So, was that not intended as a sequel hook? Or did the movie somehow don't do well enough? Or is it simply still in the making?
- He didn't start using drugs until AFTER his son was abducted. Not to mention it's the mother that has to do it while pregnant. Meanwhile, Pre-Crime is disbanded. The courts decided that you can't arrest someone for something they haven't done, no matter what a psychic says, and all the prisoners were freed and pardoned. I suppose you could make a courtroom drama about the giant lawsuits that followed...
- Anderton was "on whiff," while the precogs' late parents had been "neuroin addicts." The paraphernalia (visible in Anderton's living space) look like pipes, which is ambiguous: is the drug more like marijuana or crack? John, despite his boss being aware of his habit, was a police chief: whiff is probably a relatively "soft" drug. Neuroin would be an updated heroin analogue. The stigma surrounding its use: more severe than for users of familiar opiates? We're told it causes birth defects, but so do other drugs (not only illicit ones). Hineman implies only a few early users—of "bathtub neuroin," perhaps?—saw their children profoundly affected.
- Consensus (based on the main page, and the synopsis on IMDB) is: Anderton's addicted to neuroin. "Whiff" would be a street name, then. I interpreted it differently, and contend the film doesn't firmly clarify the matter. (During Anderton's time as a fugitive, we never observe him dosing; could he have managed such extraordinary efforts while undergoing cold-turkey withdrawal? If there was some rapid-detox method, then let's see the Applied Phlebotinum; the film showed off plenty, whether or not the plot demanded it.) But I can hardly ignore the fact: I appear to be alone in my opinion.
- Actually he does dose while on the run. When he has his eyes changed out, the crazy doc gives him a few of the puffers 'from a mutual friend.'
- The doc gives him the puffers, but we don't see Anderton using them, so its an open question of whether he went cold-turkey or not.
- The story was over. There's nothing to make a sequel of. Just accept that some things are standalone, and aren't made to be the next Big Sci-Fi Cash Cow Franchise (tm). Honestly, a sequel to what's clearly a standalone film tends to just cheapen the whole franchise.
- Fun fact. At one point Minority Report was going to be the sequel to Total Recall, complete with Arnie.
- As of 2015, you now have your sequel in the form of a television series following one of the other (male) precogs.
- The Adaptation Displacement in general. But also:
- Why would the founder of Precrime go around thrill-killing?
- ... Wow. Did you watch the movie? The founder kills one person, he doesn't "go around thrill-killing". And he does it for a very specific reason (see below).
- Precrime was only allowed to exist because it worked. Yet the Big Bad goes ahead and kills the victims anyway, after their murderer has been arrested, which makes it not work at all. And nobody notices this?
- It's been a while since I saw this but iirc, Burgess killed Agatha's mother because he had an affair with her and she wanted to go public. It wasn't a "thrill kill". As for the murder, he set it up to look like someone else had done it.
- The official In-Universe explanation is a technicality that the precogs often see echoes of previous visions, so Burgess (who knows this) sets up a fake murder, making the real murder look like an echo of the fake murder (a more detailed version of the above 'set it up to look like someone else' story)
- It had nothing to do with an affair. This is his only kill, which the OP seems to not realize. What happened was the Precog's mother had previously given up the kid because she was a drug addict. Then the mother got clean and wanted her daughter back, which would ruin Precrime because Agatha was needed for it to work. That is why the founder killed her.
Anderton's escape at the car factory
- I never liked how he escaped the car factory. A car is literally built around him and not only does he happen to not get killed or seriously injured, and not only does his wriggling around not mess up the process of building the car, but he just drives it straight out. Wouldn't they need to be activated or something?
- It certainly is implausible, and taken to the max in Attack of the Clones, but the car driving away afterwards isn't too bad. It's an electric car, so the battery is probably at least partially charged when it's installed. Plus, it's the FUTURE; the last step of the assembly line may be for the car to self-test drive itself as soon as it's put together. Just cancel the test program and ZOOM!
- No, it's still quite ridiculous. For a number of reasons (among which the inherent danger of energy storage), it makes sense for anything to be built without whatever stores its energy, be it batteries, fuel or what have you. This has always been the case, and it seems unlikely to change in the future. Energy storage would be the last thing to be added to the car, once everything else tests out.
- Cars in Anderton's time can drive themselves. It's probably standard procedure for the car, immediately after assembly, to drive itself out of the factory to whichever dealership or private buyer it's intended for. No need to haul them around on car-carriers or keep parking-lots full of them on the factory premises, awaiting shipment.
- It was made to promote Lexus.
- There's also the odd fact that In a World where everyone's eyes are scanned at every turn there's no device out there on the road scanning license plates and flagging cars without ID.
Witwer's murder wasn't recorded?
- How did the precogs not see Burgess killing Witwer?
- First of all, The PreCrime system only works with all three precogs working together, and Agatha was already gone. Also, it was a crime of passion, in the "Have You Told Anyone Else?" manner, which the precogs would only have picked up on within thirty minutes or so (remember, a red ball crime like the Howard Marks opening), as opposed to a premeditated murder, which they can detect as much as forty-eight hours in advance.
- The system proved fallible (what a shock), so they released all the culprits it helped arrest. What. Excuse me, isn't it a wee bit radical? Ok, maybe some of the prisoners might be innocent, but others were caught literally red-handed, like the jealous guy in the beginning!
- Don't forget about Howard Marks, and how he says "I wasn't going to do anything!" upon seeing the Precops storm into the room. Many viewers probably wrote this off as an obvious lie by a desperate man caught in the act... but maybe he really wasn't going to do anything. Maybe he would have simply put the scissors down and not acted in a violent manner, or he was only going to use the scissors to threaten his wife and her lover. I've only seen this movie once, so I may be wrong about the chances that this is possible, but the fact that he clearly claims he wasn't going to do it seems relevant to me, given the theme (avoiding fate/changing the future) of the film.
- That is, frankly, a ludicrous conclusion to come to after seeing that scene. You don't pick up a pair of scissors and walk menacingly toward someone in a fit of rage over finding your wife cheating just to say, "Oops! Just kidding!" The clear intention there is he was about to commit murder.
- It's not impossible to change one's mind in such an emotional situation, especially about MURDER. It takes a whole lot of gall to even attempt to murder another human being. It shouldn't be considered too unrealistic for someone in his situation to, perhaps, after picking up the scissors, have an emotional breakdown and never actually attack anyone.
- I've read a number of robbery cases where the criminal gets the money, but then can't go through and ends up giving the money back. That's just petty mugging...
- Howard picking up the scissors to kill them was his emotional breakdown. His intent is clear from the scene and his manner in it. There's nothing in the scene suggesting that he's not going to go through with it.
- While him just breaking down is something that could happen, what actually happened, which Anderton saw, was the he had the scissors in his hand, was bringing them down in a stabbing motion, and was half a second away from plunging them into his wife's chest when Anderton grabbed him. He'd have to have a very fast mental breakdown and super fast reflexes to pull his stab in the blink of an eye in order for the situation to not end with him killing them.
- Well, the ending monologue does say they're going to keep a very close eye on some of them. And given the level of surveillance shown in the movie, that's probably a very close eye.
- Yeah, and that brings up something that bugs me from earlier in the movie. Witwer questions pre-crime arresting people who have "committed no crime". Um, hello? Since when did attempted murder cease to be a crime?
- While attempted murder is a crime, the intent or desire to commit a murder is not. An "attempt" means that you actually try to go through with it. It's likely that many people arrested for future premeditated murders had only formed an intent. From what we see, it's likely that some would only have gone that far before changing their minds. I imagine it's like:
Boss: Johnson, have those TPS reports on my desk by 8 am Monday!
Johnson: But it's 4:00 on Friday and I'll be out of town at my mother's funeral all weekend.
Boss: I don't care. Your job is more important than an old hag's funeral.
Johnson: [thinking] I wonder how many people would smile at your funeral...
Precrime: [bursts in] You're under arrest!
- Except the original point of contention was about the people caught "red handed". Like the guy at the beginning who was caught with a pair of scissors in his hand about to stab his wife. That's attempted murder. He should not have been released. Also, it takes a lot more than just thinking "man, I'd really like to kill that guy" to get Pre-crime on your tail. At the beginning of the movie they outright say that someone who thinks about committing murder, wants to commit murder, intends to commit murder, but doesn't actually go through with it will not be detected by the pre-cogs. They don't read minds, they read the future. So it's not like Pre-crime would be randomly bursting in on anyone who happened to have a nasty thought about their asshole boss.
- I don't like the use of the word all either but I guess they were just trying to wrap things up. I think that cases where they can't manage to figure out where it's going to be until the would-be murderer is in the process of trying to kill them thus making an attempted murder charge stick would be in the minority or else they'd have a lot lower success rate. All the people they arrested for premeditated murder would be off the hook since they had plenty of time to deal with that but people like the man from the beginning shouldn't be. Had they gotten there faster and arrested him as he laid crying on the floor listening to his wife and her lover together then he'd have to be let go, but he was in the process of plunging the scissors into his wife when he was interrupted.
- The courts could possibly be tied up for years otherwise, sorting out who counts as worthy of being let go. It's not a perfect answer (in-story or out), though, I'll grant.
- For all we know, they did charge the cuckold with attempted murder after he'd been acquitted of future murder. If the courts negated the entire concept of "pre-crime", double jeopardy might not apply in his case, particularly if he was still awaiting trial when Anderton disproved the system.
- I kind of disagree that Precrime was proved fallible in the end. The premises at the beginning of the movie are basically 1.) precogs can tell who is going to commit murder / manslaughter should "everything go normally" and 2.) Precrime can act on knowledge from the precogs to prevent "everything going normally" and stop the would-be perpetrator. In my understanding, it's the foreknowledge of the crime (obviously possessed by all Precrime officers) that allows you to prevent the future from going as predicted. Thus, neither Leo Crow's nor Burgess's suicide (as opposed to their predicted murder by and murder of John Anderton, respectively) disproves the theory behind Precrime. Anderton was able to stop himself from killing Crow specifically because he knew it was going to happen and likewise, Burgess chose to kill himself rather than John only after Anderton informed him that he had been pegged by a murder-ball. I don't get where the fallibility is coming in... Of course, under this reading, Anderton would still have to placed in jail for the future murder of Crow, since he was only stopped from committing the crime by his own foreknowledge...... My brain hurts now....
- I think the premise behind Pre-Crime was that the pre-cogs detect what is absolutely guaranteed to happen unless someone with foreknowledge of the events, in this case the Pre-Crime office, intervenes to stop it. In other words, if you are pegged as a perpetrator by the pre-cogs you are automatically destined for prison because they've proven you were guaranteed to become a murderer. If it could be shown that a person pegged as a future murderer could choose not to kill the future victim of his own free will, then all those previous arrests and indeed the entire premise upon which the Pre-Crime system was built are suddenly in question.
- It's a legal thing. If the system is shown to be fallible and some are let go, you have to let everybody who fell under the fallible system go.
- I think it was less about fallibility, and more about shedding light on how unfair Precrime really is. Sure, Howard Marks (the jealous husband) deserved a jail sentence, but had they caught Anderton as soon as the vision of his murder plot occurred, would it really have been just to give him a similar sentence (which seemed to be the implied punishment)as opposed to holding him in custody until after the murder was meant to occur?
- It's like the concept of the falling ball, we understand gravity to be a constant and unless it is interfered with (caught in mid-air) it will fall to the floor. Pre-crime was deemed legal because they were under the impression that the visions seen by the precogs were an absolute. The existence of a "minority report" puts doubt on to how accurate those visions are, but Agatha's monologue at the Anderton home shows what the precogs actually see... possible futures. She knew the future that John Anderton's son could have had if he wasn't killed, which verifies that the ball falling off the table isn't guaranteed.
- Under any Fair system they had to be placed free, even if they were culpry of another crime. The guy in the beginning? Attemptend murder, at most, he walks away with a suspended sentence due attenuating circumnstances and no antecedents. The rest? Case-by-case study, it doesn't matter, they are paying for a crime they didn't commited: murder. They are arrested and condemned without trial, defense or possibility of appeal for the future ocurrence of a crime based on the dreams of three mutants. Hell, if none of the prisioners demand the State for years to come for unfair incarceration, it would be a real miracle. And last, the people who where caught red handed were the minority (no pun intended). Some people where arrested even two days before the allegued crime.
- Just regarding the point about all of the Precrime arrestees being allowed to go free, this actually does have some historical precedents. During The Troubles, numerous individuals believed to be associated with terrorist groups were arrested and incarcerated, and there was a very obvious anti-Catholic bias in these proceedings. One of the terms of the Good Friday Agreement (which more or less brought an end to the Troubles) was that everyone in Northern Ireland incarcerated because of association with a terrorist movement would be allowed to go free. Obviously, some of the people incarcerated actually were terrorists, but once there's evidence of a systemic bias in the legal system you can't start to pick and choose. The only alternative would be to have retrials for every single individual in question after the NI legal system had undergone a substantial reform, which would have been impossibly expensive and time-consuming. So, yes, the ending of the film has some historical precedents and is hence not quite as unrealistic as one might think.
Dissolvement of the old justice system
- Moreover, WHY did the Precrime replace the conventional judicial procedure in the first place? If we abridge the technicalities, what the cops basically got is a lucky charm that allowed them to become super-effective and happen to be around every time a murder might take place. Nothing controversial thus far, is it (yes, sure, it's Powered by a Forsaken Child, but you'd think that thousands of saved lives kind of offset it, and regardless the society seemed to be fine with it)? So where does all that orwellian crap with mind-suppressive collars and instant life sentence in cryo-prison suddenly comes from?
- Getting caught on the spot and released wouldn't be as effective a deterrent. They were probably able to get away with it since it was a trial run in one area. If it were nationwide, they'd have never have managed it from the start.
- Who says anything about releasing? Attempted murder is still a crime.
- Yes, but it's not a life sentence. Not even most of those murders are a life sentence. Regardless, the reason they're kept in a vegtative state rather than a conventional prison is never explained.
- Attempted murder may be a crime, but what about Anderton? If he had been arrested right after the Precogs named him, he would be serving a life sentence for what was still, in theory, a completely hypothetical situation.
- Anderton's predicted murder was a premeditated crime. Obviously in that case the person would be caught and released (or at least detained until the deadline for his hypothetical murder had passed) but in the case of the glasses-guy who stabbed his wife to death, they caught him with the scissors in his hand a half-second before he plunged them into his wife's chest. Nothing hypothetical about that, he was absolutely guilty of attempted murder. The same would go for all the other "red balls".
- Does it have to be? Instead of having to employ hundreds of guards, cooks, and other employees, you can keep an eye on thousands of sleeping prisoners with one guy at a keyboard. And both sides benefit: Society has zero murder rates, the prisoners get to fulfill their darkest fantasies in VR. The greatest good for the greatest number.
- Yes, it'd better, because if people arrested by Pre-cops underwent the normal judicial procedure and were put in a normal jail with a fixed term, it'd make the system much less vulnerable and unappealing, thus they'd much more likely be able to preserve it.
What about acts of self-defense?
- Since the precogs can detect the deliberate killing of another human being, does this also include acts of self-defense? What about suicide?
- Anderson quotes Dr. Iris Hineman, who, paraphrased, said that the deliberate murder of one human by another draws the precogs' attention so much as to exclude all else (which is why they don't see other violent crimes, like rape). Acts of self-defense are spontaneous and, in many cases, justified by the circumstances, so they probably wouldn't be disturbing enough to attract their attention. Suicide is disturbing to others, but since it's being sought after by both the perpetrator and the victim, it may not be disturbing enough to register to the precogs either. That would open the possibility that assisted suicide wouldn't register, either.
- But how exactly is killing in self-defense (or in defense of someone else's life) less spontaneous than murdering someone as a crime of passion (the "red balls")? A 'justified' killing like that doesn't necessarily mean a heated fisticuff, but might for example be targeted towards someone who is calmly aiming a gun at an innocent victim, giving a fair amount of time to think and decide about it.
- In which case, the precogs would have already foreseen the person aiming the gun at the innocent victim, rendering the self-defense unnecessary as Pre-Crime will have already dealt with the situation. And spontaneity does make a difference; spontaneous events are either harder to detect or harder to predict, which is why the red balls show up only a few minutes before the actual event.
- The Precogs seem to detect the emotion as well as the action. A killing in self-defense doesn't have the same emotions behind it as a murder, and the emotion behind a pre-meditated murder is apparently what lets them detect it earlier than a crime of passion.
- What was the deal with Agatha's monologue about Anderton's son growing up? Agatha is a precognitive psychic, not a retrocognitive; she can see events before they happen and read minds. We were never led to believe they could see past events or alternate timelines. And if she could look into the past, then why wasn't that ability mentioned before? That entire sequence seems completely out of place with what we were presented.
- Actually, "alternate timelines" is represented in the titular Minority Reports. One occurs when one of the three Precogs foresees a different future from the other two, and Agatha is explicitly named as the smartest, and therefore the only one who would be able to see those alternates.
- At the end of the movie, Anderton and his wife have reconciled, and she's pregnant again. It's been awhile since I've seen the movie, but I don't remember Agatha actually using Shawn's name in her monologue. Maybe she's talking about their second son. Now that I've actually written that theory down, I have a disturbing feeling that the kid's going to be treated as a Replacement Goldfish.
- Actually, she starts the monologue with Sean's name and describes events that happened before he as kidnapped. As she goes into the alternate timeline, she continues to use the pronoun "he".
- Alternately, wasn't Agatha born before Shawn? She could have seen a Minority Report the day that Shawn got killed, and she's telling the story to his parents now.
"Attempted murder" doesn't exist?
- Why exactly weren't the people arrested by the Precog department not charged with either attempted murder or conspiracy to murder? Colin Farrell's character has a perfectly valid point that the people caught hadn't actually committed a murder, so why were they charged with that? If the Precog system was good enough to predict murders then the recordings could have been used as iron clad evidence of intent to murder, so presumably the vanilla justice system could have handled it.
- Why charge them at all? Why not simply detain them until after the time when the murder is supposed to happen, and then put them on necessary probation to see to limit the chance of them trying to kill their would-be victims in the future?
- In the interests of justice and due process it would be better to charge them with something. For one thing, it's stated that a premeditated murder can be predicted up to 72 hours in advance, and in the US you cannot be held for more than 48 hours without being charged with a crime. For another, grabbing people off the streets, detaining them for X amount of time, and then "putting them on probation" for days or weeks afterward is a system that's just begging to be abused. Especially if you don't even have to officially charge them with a crime to do it. What's stopping Pre-Crime from targeting a political opponent and detaining them on suspicion of a future murder in order to smear their reputation?
- Because whenever they analyze the previsions, they always have the chief justice of the supreme court and a criminal justice professor witnessing the procedure, not to mention, every prevision is stored for future reference. It would be incredibly difficult to get a supreme court justice on board with an illegal smear campaign and impossible to fake a prevision.
- Also locking people away indefinitely is EXACTLY what pre-crime is doing. If you attempt or conspire to murder now, even a crime of passion (i.e. the victim survives the attack) you are charged with the crime. Most western countries provide a defined path of rehabilitation. If the Pre-cogs are considered good enough to put people in statis indefinately, and arguement here about the law is moot, as we know that intention to commit murder is recognised as a crime in 2054 DC.
- Charging those people with "something" would be the exact opposite of justice and due process. It is, in fact, entirely against those very concepts. What you mean is "in the interests of safety and making people feel better", which are not the same thing at all. The whole point of releasing the people who had been convicted of precrime was that they hadn't actually done anything. Whether or not they had the intent to, whether or not they were going to go through with it, they HAD NOT done anything at the point they were arrested. That was essentially the whole point of precrime being flawed... these people were being convicted of thought crimes, in essence. The fact that so many people on this page are perfectly okay with prosecuting people for thoughts they had but had not actually followed through on (whether of their own agency or someone else's) is disturbing as fuck.
- Attempted murder is, in fact, a crime, so yes, the people that Precrime tackle at the last moment before a crime of passion can be charged with something. Conspiracy to commit murder is, in fact, a crime, so yes, the people that Precrime grabbed for premeditated murder can be charged with something. Just because nobody actually died does not mean the person holding the knife can't be charged with anything. And it's not about "thoughts they had," it's about things they had set into motion to do. Not by thought, but by action. The intervention may be extreme (life sentence without a trial is extreme), but intervention and charges are definitely warranted.
"Don't go home, he knows."
- Has the pre-cog just prevented a murder?
- Maybe. Since that line is all the context we have, it's impossible to say.
- I always thought that that random lady was cheating on her beau, and he found out about it.
Abandoning the system
- Why would they completely abandon a system that they stated at the start has resulted in their being NOT A SINGLE MURDER for their entire decades-long careers, just because of a single slight error that wouldnt even have prevented them from charging the guys in question?
- Precrime was (conceptually) invalidated because Setting Right What Once Went Wrong was invalidated. The existence of the minority report proves that either the Precogs are not infallible at predicting the future, or that there is more than one possible future, meaning that the foreseen events are not certain, therefore you don't have 100% evidence of a person's guilt. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that many people were caught in the act, nor the fact that if your stated desire is simply to prevent murder, especially murders of passion, rather than punishing murderers, then you don't actually have to arrest and imprison someone. Just show up with a warrant and inform both the perpetrator and victim of what has been foreseen. You're not denying life, liberty or property then.
- Also, remember 2 things about Precrime. First and foremost, the people who get arrested are locked up and put in a Lotus-Eater Machine; no trial, no jury, no nothing. Even though they could easily have been charged with the crimes, presumably the scandal alone tainted the officers' witnessing the attempted murders.
Second, the way the future works in Minority Report is presented as an inconsistent mix of Psychic Powers as future-foreseeing and Telepathy as mind-reading of intentions. That's how they were able to predict all of their murders; the reliable assumption that if you form the intent in your mind to kill someone, you will follow through with it and not have any last-second change of heart. The reason there were no murders at the start was because they were casting a wide net, grabbing EVERYONE who might possibly commit a murder without knowing for certain if the murder would have taken place had they not arrived. Without this certainty, precrime can't be sure of your eventual guilt and since they don't try you in a court of law, there's no jury or judge to weigh if you should be locked up because of a mere propensity to murder. Too bad they played fast and loose with the rules of how their psychics predict things because the film's events justified an overhaul of the program and there was still reason to keep all the arrestees imprisoned for attempted murder.
- Not true. The pre-cogs are just that, precognitive. Meaning, they see the future. They can only "read minds" to the extent that they can see what you're going to do and then work backwards to guesstimate when you had the thought that led to the action(s). So, they weren't grabbing everyone who "might possibly commit a murder" they were grabbing everyone who was guaranteed to commit a murder. It's only in a small amount of cases that the pre-cogs have some doubt about future events, and those doubts form the minority reports. Your point that they screwed themselves over by playing fast and loose with due process is quite right, though. If they had simply taken the people they caught and dragged them into court for a trial with the pre-cog visions as evidence there would never have been any reason to dismantle the whole program. (Aside from maybe some human rights concerns with the treatment of the pre-cogs, but I daresay most people would be cool with that if it dropped the murder rate to 0.)
- Good Lord, people, are you reading what you write? (scandalized exclamation put for emphasis in further point of view). First, when you use "attempted murder" with so much freedom, Lady Justice and Lady Liberty weep together in the corner; even "attempted murder" is hard to prove unless there is already blood in the hands of the perpetrator, and you want to put as a main evidence the declaration of an allegued vident with congenital problems that has been proven to be fallible? On that you propose to base what would be effectively a policial state? Unless you propose that Utopia Justifies the Means (wich was the motiff of the movie's villain) then the system is abhorrent, you can be arrested and condemned on the base of allegued intentions, sustained as a fact. They say during the rule of Vlad The Impaler people were very honest and straight too, but you don't want his judicial system... do you?
- Ok, maybe this was just me not paying attention, but I was wondering, how did Anderton get out of jail in order to confront Burgess at the party?
- His ex-wife broke him out.
How effective is Pre Crime?
- The Effectiveness of Pre Crime. Its been a while since I saw the movie fully and it might have been a deleted scene but I distinctly remember in a conversation regarding the relative ineffectiveness of precrime. Although the precogs were effective in preventing crimes that led to murder, they were unable to foretell "lesser" crimes such as robbery or rape due to the relatively lower level of passion by the criminal in the act compared to murder. Given that precrime advertises its effectiveness in stopping all forms of crime with a woman in a commercial telling how precrime prevented her from being raped, and the inability of the system itself to be implemented on a national level (the department would need to overload the precogs or get more for each state) why would Burgess want to nationalize precrime?
- Uh, no, the Pre Crime department did not advertise that it would stop all forms of precrime. It very specifically said it was targeting murders only and touted the statistic that since the inception of Pre Crime there had not been a single murder in Washington, DC. Quite an impressive statistic considering that DC was once the murder capital of the United States.
- Still, it would be impossible to implement the program on a national level without conducting additional human rights violations. Since neuorin had its impurities removed such that the pure form is now enjoyed even by "the intelligent upperclass," Burgress would need to forcefeed pregnant women with the impure form of the drug to produce more precogs or simply risk overloading the precogs, unlikely given the fact that the precogs as they are now are not able to sense crime beyond Washington which hints at a proximity limit to the precog's ability to sense crime. Human rights workers would be all over precrime for the existence of the minority reports if they are ever discovered, legality of the holdings unless the Supreme Court reinterprets attempted murder, and treatment of precogs.
- The Precogs may simply have been drugged to a limited radius. Adjust the medication a bit and there could be a corresponding range boost. What bugs me is Burgress's outlandish claim that national precrime would eliminate their need to use guns. As soon as criminals realized murder wasn't a viable option in robberies, they'd resort to painful extremity wounds.
- I think having three pre cogs to cover all murders in the nation would be incredibly inefficient. Considering that it takes several minutes for pre crime to scrub the image and the difficulty to find a location in just the district, it would be near impossible for them to prevent crimes in locations they have little familiarity with. On top of that, this is just dealign with the fairly modest number (not murder rate, which I am aware is high) of murders of DC, which happen every other day or two. Imagine the department inundated with the number of murders that occur in Baltimore, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, all at the same time. I think making more pre cogs is a more effective plan.
- He makes no such "outlandish claim," he makes the idealistic remark that hopefully if Precrime succeeds, people won't have to use firearms. It's about as meaningful as someone saying they hope for world peace.
About the practicality of engraving names on wooden balls
- This is kind of petty compared to some of this stuff, but why does the name of the murderer have to be engraved on a wooden ball that then rolls down a gumball machine tube? Especially in crimes of passion when seconds count, wouldn't it be better if it just popped up on a screen or something?
- I would say they use the balls for bookkeeping reasons. When the first crime takes place, we see Anderton take both balls and put them on the machine. They could be recording devices to keep the visions stored to be accessed at a later date and legal systems like to keep hard copies of everything because there is the fear of losing information if it is only stored electronically.
- It's explained to Witwer that they use the balls to ensure authenticity: A name popping up on a screen can be faked, but the unique design and grain of the wooden balls is probably a closely-guarded trade secret (y'know, like the KFC Secret Recipe), or at least, not something that's available normally, particularly the engraving procedure.
- But why something as expensive as individually engraved wooden balls? Why not something like paper with a watermark?
- Because like computer records, paper is a lot easier to alter, lose, or destroy than uniquely carved wooden balls. Remember, this is a system where it's mentioned it could be brought down entirely if one irregularity or mistake is made. They don't want to take any chances that someone could manipulate the system if they can avoid it.
- In the original novel they had cards, but laser-engraved wooden balls are about 20% cooler. It adds to drama and SYMBOLYSM!, when the "prophecy orb" is carved out before our very eyes and the words of Fate are literally burned into its surface. Also you cannot roll a card across the table for somebody to catch, when you want to illustrate how preventive actions are valid when you know the future.
- Among other things, stacks and stacks of symbolism. The wooden balls resemble eyes.
Why arrest Anderton?
- One that just occurred to me: why did Precrime arrest Anderton near the end of the film? It's been established that their jurisdiction only encompasses future murders; the MPDC (who are established to still exist in the film's opening sequence) still has jurisdiction over regular crimes. At this point in the film, Anderton is already being held responsible for the deaths of both Leo Crow and Danny Witer. Surely he would hence fall under the DCPD's jurisdiction?
- They are responsible for regular crimes, but murder is now considered the responsibility of Pre-Crime full stop. That Anderton seemingly committed those crimes is irrelevant since he still falls under their jurisdiction, plus the Big Bad probably would have blocked any such opposition anyway since he doesn't want his own crimes revealed thanks to someone carrying out an actual police investigation. That, or it might simply be that Pre-Crime are taking him for now and their right to hold him is something that will be worked out at a later date.
- Anderton's one of their own. They'd know how he thinks, and how he's likely to try to subvert the system and save himself, much better than the conventional police would.
A philosophical issue about crimes
- What exactly do the precogs see three days ahead of time when it comes to premeditated crimes? Before the formation of intent, the causing action, or the death of the victim? If it's the middle one, then what if the person does/intends to do an action, like poisoning someone's water supply, that will result in the death of the victims days later? Do they see it in time for Precrime to stop the poisoning itself, or only in time to see some very sick people die slowly?
- They sense murder intent. A person eager to poison water supply already has it, since they know what they are doing and what will follow, moreover, they wish for it to happen. Therefore precogs should sense it before the poisoning itself takes place.
- But don't forget this quote: "The precogs don't see what you intend to do, only what you will do."
- They'd probably see actions taken in preparation for the crime, such as the would-be poisoner purchasing the poison's ingredients and fiddling with the water source.
- A few related questions: can they see killing in self defense? If not in the normal case, what about what the law considers non-justifiable self-defense killing, as if it happens in the course of a (lesser) crime, like if an armed robber shoots a security guard who pulls a gun on him? Or other accidental but forseeable deaths, such as the one that may well have befallen's Anderton's son, such as if a kidnapper never intends to kill his victim, but ends up neglecting them into starvation?
- No they cannot. Killing in self-defence or neglecting lacks murder intent.
- Okay, so what if a would-be killer starts preparing a weapon, plotting the kill, and heading for the victim's location, only to get run over by a bus as they're approaching their intended target's house? Would the precogs pick up on that?
- Say it with me, people. The precogs don't see your thoughts. They see the future i.e. what would have happened unless someone saw a precogs vision and intervened. In this case the would-be killer would never come up on the precogs' radar because in the future in which Precrime didn't intervene, he was destined to get flattened by a bus before he killed anyone.
Burgess's murder of Lively
- The old dude got away with killing the pre-cog's mother because he made it look similar to a murder that had just happened thus allowing the murder to be written off as an echo or something. Why the bloody hell wouldn't his name have shown up on a wooden ball? No matter how similar looking the murders would have been, the wooden balls would name different perpetrators.
- I agree this is a full-on plot hole, though you might be able to explain it that something about the technology or training used to detect echoes would lead to the Burgess Perp Ball being tossed out with the imagery. It does lead to a related question: If the precogs are only able to pick up fractured, fuzzy imagery of the crime, without even knowing the location, how the hell are they so precisely accurate with the names of the parties involved, the type of murder (premeditated or not), and the time until the act?
- The visions are psychic in nature. Presumably, they're more attuned to the psyches of the participants in a crime than to that crime's physical surroundings. The computer scans the eyes of whomever appears in the vision, and if there's no clear match, it plays a list of the likely possibilities through the precogs' brains to see which names ring a bell with their psychic impressions of killer and victim.
- Although, if you check the opening Howard Marx prevision, the ball only gets made after the precogs have the vision, implying a gap where the technician could identify an echo (or a faux-echo) before it gets passed into the computer system that somehow extracts a name from the vision and carves the balls. Similarly, we don't see a ball for the establishing echo after Howard Marx is arrested. Perhaps the balls are only carved once a computer has a look at the vision, as opposed to the Precogs themselves.
- But this is ridiculous. From all the meticulous preparations the Big Bad makes to pull off his scheme, it implies that the vision can only be discarded as MR by analysis. And that is reasonable, because otherwise they could discard similar murders (not staged to be similar, just accidentally so). No way such a profound system would allow some technician to decide matters of such importance.
- It seemed plain to me that the technicians are trained to suppress echoes as part of the process, before those echos actually get recorded as precrimes. I'm not sure why this would be ridiculous, the point of technicians is to make sure everything runs correctly, and the judicial system doesn't want to be bothered with worthless echoes. The whole point of the movie is that this is a hole in the system for similar crimes - but those crimes presumably have to be awfully similar, and two murders aren't likely to be as similar as murders Burgess was responsible for without actually figuring out the flaw and gaming the system in the same way he did.
- Seeing the same victim's name come up twice in similar visions would probably mark the second occurrence as an echo, right then and there. The odds that a person would be targeted for murder twice in identical ways, by identical-seeming or unidentifiable killers, probably never occurred to anyone.
- If you think about it, it makes some sense given what we know. The Precogs only see what will happen without Precrime's intervention. Had Precrime not intervened, then the man Burgess hired would have killed Ann Lively, and Burgess would not have. But because Precrime stopped the first murder, they set in motion a whole new chain of events that began at the initial prevention and ended with Burgess drowning Ann Lively. In other words, Burgess was only going to drown her once Precrime stopped the murder, and the Precogs don't foresee Precrime stopping crimes.
- Exactly. The Precogs couldn't detect Burgess as the murderer because whether or not he would kill Ann Lively was totally uncertain, even to him. There was still the possibility that Precrime wouldn't get to the scene fast enough and the hitman would kill Ann Lively himself. So even Burgess didn't know whether he would ultimately end up killing her or not, which is why the vision of him murdering her only showed up in the last few seconds before he committed it.
How do you replace the Pre Cogs when they die?
- What were they planning to do when one of the precogs died of old age?
- Fridge Horror: They know how to make more precogs. They already said Pre Crime was going "national" soon. Remember that procogs were children of drug addicts, specifically neuroin, like the stuff Anderton has an addiction for...
- So Anderton walks into Leo Crowe's apartment building demanding to see the registry. The guy at the front desk refuses until Anderton pulls a gun on him. Shouldn't his response be 'Whatever, I'm still not going to show you the registry because it's impossible for you to murder me?'
- He could still shoot. The Precogs can't see crotch-crippling.
- Maybe, but there's no telling whether the shot you fire will be fatal or not. I think even people in the world of Minority Report would be hesitant to try severely wounding others in case they unintentionally become murderers.
- Perhaps, but from the clerk's point of view, even assuming he was thinking completely rationally with a gun pointed at him, all he could conclude was "you will not murder me"; for all he knew, Anderton would indeed shoot but not kill him, but could possibly cripple him, and I guess the privacy of his guests wasn't worth that risk. Plus, from Anderton's point of view, he could use your same logic: there were no pre-crime agents there, so he could safely shoot without the intention to kill, and Anderton was even more in the know that there was no second ball with some random clerk's name on it.
- Remember that Anderton has been the top story on the news for multiple days now. We see him appear on the front page of a newspaper mere minutes after he runs. So, if the head of pre crime is not only a suspect for a murder himself, but has successfully been evading a manhunt for three full days, it's going to make most peoplse a little less confident in the system. Doubly so when the gun comes out.
- Do the Precogs read minds, or see the future? Because, if they see the future, then we know the future we see isn't necessarily correct—early in the movie, a character explains the jealous man's crime was not seen four days in advance because it was a crime of passion, not premeditated. But that should make literally no difference if they see the future—because what is going to happen will happen. So long as nothing interfering with the chain of events because of an outside source (i.e. the Precogs), the murder will happen. Therefore, it can be assumed that they do not see the future. They read minds. If this is the case, then this is far less stable, because it's based upon what the person is choosing to do right at that moment. This is all a bit rhetorical; we know they can be wrong—that's why the minority report exists. But, that said...why do people allow Precrime to exist? Every fact except the minority report is known to the general public, and at least someone must realize they must be sometimes wrong.
- According to Precrime doctrine, they do see the future. It's just that they only see future murder, and for strange mystical reasons, they see it further in advance when it's premeditated. Probably related to the mystical reason why murder is the only thing they see in the first place; it is "destructive to the metaphysical fabric that binds us"; I guess premeditating the intent to do that creates an even more visible metaphysical field that the Precogs can see. Now, in reality, what they find out when the Precogs finally get it wrong, perhaps it's more like what you said; they read minds and intentions, contra what they said earlier "they don't see what you intend to do, they see what you will do".
- The Precogs do see the future, but, as the movie makes clear, the future isn't set in stone. Presumably that's why they can't predict anything more than a few days in advance: any longer than that, and there are too many variables involved, too many different ways the timeline can split, for them to be sure of their predictions. Now, let's say you've got two husbands who are going to kill their wives. One has been annoyed with his wife for a long time and plans her murder in advance. The other is in love with his wife, but catches her cheating on him and kills her in the heat of the moment. In the latter husband's scenario, there are many ways random chance could keep him from killing his wife; for example, if he gets in a car accident and doesn't get home until late, he won't see his wife with another man and therefore won't kill her. The Precogs don't predict a murder until they're 99.999% sure it is going to happen, so they have to wait until the odds of a car accident or some other twist of fate stopping the husband are too remote to be worth worrying about. However, Howard, who's consciously planning to kill his wife won't be so easily deterred; if he got into a car accident and came home late, he'd still kill his wife anyway. Since there are fewer things that could stop this wife's murder, the Precogs can narrow down all the possible timelines they see and conclude "Her husband's definitely gonna kill her" much sooner than they could with the other husband and wife.
- What doesn't make as much sense though is why they don't take into account the very thing they're there for: the intervention of Precrime. Presumably if someone were planning to murder his wife days in advance, but a friend unaffiliated with Precrime was going to be there at the time and stop him and thereafter the woman would run away and never see her husband again, then the precogs wouldn't see it at all; there wouldn't be a ball or anything. (Only what you will do, right?) But somehow because Precrime only intervenes due to information they get from the precogs, their interference doesn't register with their vision? It doesn't track.
- The precogs don't predict the actual future, they predict what the future will be at the moment their predictions are made, without including the effects of those predictions. They don't forsee Precrime preventing the murder because before the prediction is made, the murder wasn't going to be prevented by Precrime. It is only after the prediction is made that the future changes to having the murder be prevented. But they would not see a crime prevented by an unaffiliated friend because at the time the prediction was made, the future was that the murder would be prevented, hence nothing to see.
- You see the problem with that line of logic don't you? If there were no murder and no prevision to see, the unaffiliated friend would not know to warn the would-be murderer; hence the murder will happen, and there will be a prevision ball, which means the friend will see and warn the murderer, so there would be no prevision, so on and so on. Also, if the precogs only see the future at the moment their previsions are made, not accounting for any reaction seeing previsions might impact upon the scenarios they predict themselves, how can you explain Agatha's appearance in the prevision of the Leo Crow's murder? Her being there was caused by John seeing the prevision, running away, finding out about the minority reports, and then coming back to bring Agatha with him. Apparently the result of all this had already been seen in the initial prevision as well.
- What bugs me about this whole movie is they set it in America. It's not post-Apocalyptic, so presumably the US Constitution is still in operation. And yet those "Guilty" of committing a pre-crime and detained without trial, have no right of appeal and subjected to (arguably) "Cruel & Unusual Punishment" (imprisonment in the tube things). If they'd set it in "Madeupland" (or "Madeupistan") you wouldn't have to wonder how the Supreme Court hadn't shut them down long before.
- If you think it would take obviously post-apocalyptic conditions for the US to lose the Constitutional protections on human rights it's historically had, you haven't been paying attention even in the past few years. The Constitution could indeed still exist, but maybe with a couple amendments, or maybe with a Supreme Court that interprets the 4th and 5th very tyrannically; it's not like either one is unprecedented. All it would really take is a very perverse interpretation of the phrase "due process".
- Granted it's possible that there's been a radical revising (or re-interpretation) of the US Constitution, but why borrow trouble? Actually, probably the worst of them all is the scene where the cops release their spider robots to scan the building without any sort of a warrant and pry behind Anderton's post op bandages. Now Anderton is unlikely to protest this since the operation was performed illegally and he's got much greater problems to worry about, but supposing he'd just had a cataract operation - they could have just blinded the guy and left themselves open to a massive lawsuit (unless there's been a massive reform in Civil Law too). But if they'd set the film in (say) Saudi Arabia - a country that's rich enough to afford the tech and not exactly renowned for its sterling civil rights record - then it would be more believable. Of course, the studio isn't going to want to alienate a potential market by describing them as essentially a fascist state, so instead of Saudi Arabia we get Madeupistan.
- This is complaining, not headscratching. You know full well why they set it in America. It's because the movie's marketed to Americans, and they want characters and settings they can relate to. Headscratching is in-universe questions, and those have been answered plausibly.
The dirty doctor
- The doctor played by Peter Stormare makes it clear he has a huge grudge against Anderton, and Anderton is drugged and helpless before him... And yet the doctor does exactly what Anderton wanted, and replaces his eyes. What was the point of all that build-up, when it leads to nothing? Why didn't the doctor give Anderton to the cops? Since Anderton is a wanted fugitive, the doctor's basically taking a big risk to help a man who had already put him in prison once.
- Rule of Drama. The sequence wouldn't have been as tense without the hint that the doctor might seek revenge on Anderton in some way.
- I don't think Rule of Drama really covers it. The sequence doesn't introduce any actual new drama or conflict, just a hint of a possible conflict... that never happens. Also, the movie puts a lot effort to depict the psychological motivations behind the actions of various characters, so it seem pretty pointless to waste so much time building up the doctor's motivation, when no action whatsoever follows.
- The doctor makes his living doing operations like this, so he can't really afford to get back at Anderton by turning him in: word would get out, and nobody else running from the law would trust him again. Nor can he simply send the guy away, as he's sure to get caught without the eye-replacement, and would certainly rat the doctor out once arrested. The one form of payback he can afford is to screw with Anderton's head.
Agatha's prediction of minor events other than murder
- If murders are the only events precogs can foresee, and it takes all three precogs working together as a Hive Mind in order to do it, then how was Agatha able to predict all kinds of minor events — not one of which involved murder — in the mall, all by herself?
- Proximity. Presumably, she has an easier time predicting things that are going to happen nearby.
- Not one of which involved murder. You don't know that. Remember, Anderton was armed and nervous, and Angela's visions were all directed to them not being seen. It's entirely possible that she was seeing the first in a chain of events ending with Anderton or a Precop being murdered.
Lively's drowning and Burgess's use of the echo
- Why was the man in prison for the murder of Ann Lively? They tell us later on that Precrime prevented him from drowning her, and that Burgess disguised himself as the murderer and drowned her immediately after. They stopped him from drowning her, arrested him, then Burgess drowned her, and then the man was convicted of a murder that happened just after they arrested him? How could he be serving the sentence for a crime that was both prevented and then actually happened?
- You've gotten mixed up. He wasn't convicted of a murder that happened. He was jailed from the precrime vision, like the other perps we see in the film. What happened after was Burgess drowned her and nobody knew about it. Ann Lively is just considered a missing person, not a murder victim.
- I feel like the biggest piece of confusing weirdness in this scene is that the precops swoop in, grab the guy who was supposed to murder Anne, and then immediately bug the fuck out and don't even want to talk to her. If anything about this bit strained credulity it was that they left an intended murder victim alone at the site of what they knew to be her intended murder.
- But that's not what the guard said. He said, "He drowned a woman named Ann Lively," not "We prevented him from drowning a woman named Ann Lively."
- Because the first is quicker. If I'm not mistaken, Anderton immediately asks the guy where Ann Lively is now, and the guy is surprised to see she is a missing person—so it's clear that neither of them took that to mean Ann Lively was dead because of that guy. It's probably just a spoken shorthand—"What'd Precrime grab this guy for?" "Killing his wife."
Do Pre Cogs have work benefits?
- How is the government employing the Precogs? From what we see of one of them, they are teenagers, and so unstable they can't really offer much in terms of informed consent. Are the precogs paid? Do they get days off? Sick leave? Because from what we see they are plugged in 24/7 and forced to witness murder after murder. How is that legal? Like when the system was first set up, how was this arranged "We'll put these kids in virtual slavery and run our organization!"
- Yep. They're slaves. And since they're also orphaned children of drug addicts, they don't have any family who can raise a fuss. Early on Anderton even says "It's easier if you don't think of them as human." What's really disturbing is that it seems everybody at Precrime knows this, but nobody cares.
- That's kind of the whole point. Remember how the tour guide straight up lies about everything when talking about the precogs?
- FWIW, the TV series dealt with this by indicating that the precogs had no idea how long they've been in the milk bath. They were told they'd be going in for a brief test, were put into a trance in which they had no consciousness of time's passage, and were kept in that state for a decade without respite.
What if there's a delay between when a victim is injured and when they die?
- Hypothetical situation: someone commits a crime against another human being that the PreCogs can't detect (as of the start of the movie). However, the victim dies sometime later, like, say, two weeks later, due to complications resulting from the injuries that were sustained in said crime. Would the PreCogs detect this as a Brown Ball, a Red Ball, or something else?
Mounted police in 2054?
- Am I the only person who thinks it's a little weird to see that there are still some mounted police officers who ride on horses in 2054, especially in a world where PreCogs detect future murders and cars are built on automated assembly lines and advertisements advertise directly to you?
- Mounted police continue to be used today because horses allow for officers to patrol wider areas and to have a better vantage point in crowds. Horses are also useful in riots because of the intimidation factor, something that no amount of tech can accurately replicate. It's hard to act tough when there's a couple tons of pure muscle bearing down on you.
One pre-crime at a time?
- There are only three PreCogs. So what if two unrelated murders are predicted to happen literally minutes apart in two completely different parts of the city?
The murder rate spike
- What caused the unusually high murder rate in the United States prior to the introduction of Pre Crime? Was it, like, something akin to the crack epidemic, or something?