Minority Report is a film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the story by Philip Dick. The film takes place in the District of Columbia in the year two thousand fifty four. The protagonist, John Anderton who is played by Tom Cruise is the Chief of the Pre-Crime cops, whose job is to prevent murders before they occur. In order to fulfill their duties as Pre-Crime cops, they use the help of three beings known as pre-cogs who are the by-product of a genetic research experiment. These pre-cogs have the ability to telepathically read the thoughts of murderers while they are committing or pre-meditating the crime.
Also, these pre-cogs have the unique ability to see into the future. The pre-cogs rest in a bath of liquid, while wired up to a machine which reads their thoughts. It is the job of the pre-crime cops to correctly interpret the data retrieved from the pre-cogs and reconcile the capture of the criminal before he or she commits the crime. The antagonist Danny Witwer, who is played by Colin Farrell, is sent by the Attorney General of the United States to investigate the pre-crime division for flaws. At first this seems queer because there has been a one hundred percent success rate of the division.
In the six years that this operation has been active not a single murder has been committed. It soon becomes obvious that uncovering human errors is Witwer’s main objective. The film Minority Report is a very philosophical movie and deals with one of the biggest philosophical disciplines called metaphysics. The director Steven Spielberg has once again made a movie that requires the audience to think outside the plot about the theme and moral of the story. Spielberg made this movie from a philosophical point of view and it deals with a number of metaphysical questions and ideas.
The main idea raised in the film questions our sight and how we perceive things. It deals with the questions: How does one see? What does one see? How do we understand what we see or think we see? To make this idea clear from the start, Spielberg decided to make the first image of the movie blurry and undetectable until slowly evolving the image to a contorted kiss between a couple who are unidentifiable. In addition for example, in the opening scene the “pre-criminal” Howard Marks returns home for his glasses and says “You know how blind I am without them,” only to find his wife in bed with another man.
Howard attempted to drive the same pair of scissors through his cheating wife’s eyes as his son drove through the eyes of an Abraham Lincoln picture. Steven Spielberg uses this particular scene of the wife cheating on her husband because it is very common in our society and it also brings out the metaphysical questions in this movie. The question that deals with how we understand what we see and what one sees is explained in this case when Howard Marks discovers that his wife is sleeping with another man. This answers the question what do we see and it brings Howard to realization that things aren’t always what they seem.
The way he decides to deal with his problem brings us to the question how we understand what we see. Instead of dealing with his problem verbally with his wife, he makes a mistake and decides that killing her is the best option. The question that deals with how one sees is portrayed throughout the entire movie. Spielberg uses the eyeball as a major symbol to represent the metaphysical question that has to do with how one sees. For example, in this particular scene John Anderton hires a criminal surgeon to remove his own eyeballs and replace them with a new set that will allow him to pass undetected through the universal retinal scans.
This brings us to the other metaphysical topics that deal with free will and determinism. Using this Pre-Crime police force, pre-cogs can “see” crimes before they happen so murderers are apprehended and tried before they commit their crimes and many may argue that it takes away from people’s free will. If people are free to do what they please, then they should not be stopped in the middle of their act of committing a crime. There are always going to be faults in the governing system and the “pre-cogs” are not always going to be correct when it comes to their job.
Relying on a faulty psychic also raises the issue of free will and whether or not people in society are being given the rights they deserve. The world of “Minority Report” is also governed by a state of determinism. Determinism is the philosophical idea that every event, act, and decision is the destined consequence of previous occurrences that are independent of the human will. This can be seen when the “criminals” are prosecuted due to the fact that they are destined or predetermined to commit a crime.