Minority Report is science fiction movie about determinism. In the year 2054, Tom Cruise, head of the Washington Pre-crime unit, is accused of a future murder. The movie makes criticisms about determinism.
Basically, the philosophical under-pinning of the movie is determinism which says we have no free will. All events are determined ahead of time, and we can’t change them. Free will is just an illusion. It doesn’t matter what we do because everything has been pre-determined.
In the movie, “pre-cogs” or psychics can see the future. They know when a person’s about to commit a crime. Therefore, criminals are caught by a pre-emptive law enforcement agency or “pre-crime” police before the crime.
To analogize Minority Report’s Pre-crime, today, we have pre-emptive law enforcement. Drug enforcement is a case in point. For example, before a seed can grow into a plant, drug enforcement officers will burn or destroy seeds. Also, DEA will destroy plants. The idea is it’s easier to destroy the seeds than shipments. Plus, destroying seeds undermines future shipments of bails of weed.
Additionally, indefinite life sentences are another example of pre-crime. Here, a judge can lock up a person for an indefinite amount of time if that individual is considered a danger to himself or other people. In this case, a person doesn’t have to commit a crime to be locked up; that is, a judge only has to deem him a threat to society.
Nevertheless, the future that the pre-cogs see is not set in stone. There are things that Cruise can do to change it: He must find the “minority report” before it’s too late. Cruise must obtain the minority report if he wants to change the future.
Noteworthy, the movie discusses false positives. For example, stress testing diagnoses women with heart disease, although this is often false. In the movie, the system is said to be perfect, but the flaw in the system is the human.
Interestingly, religion is tied into this movie. Danny, an ambitious DOJ agent, states, “The oracle isn’t where the power is anyway. The power’s always been with the priests. Even if they had to invent the oracle.” Moreover, the pre-crime unit or officers are considered “the clergy”. In fact, like clergy, they intervene and change destiny.
Further, Danny discusses religion. He says, “Science has stolen most of our miracles. In a way… they give us hope… hope of the existence of the divine. I find it interesting that some people have begun to deify the precogs.”
Moreover, religion’s predestination parallels determinism. In religions like Puritanism or Calvinism, predestination says all things are known before hand by God. Divine foreordination determines who is saved and not. God knows who is damned and who will survive. God is omniscient.
That being said, Cruise kills. However, technically, it’s not a “murder”. It’s an accidental shooting in the movie.
The movie is good because it points out criticisms of determinism, namely, free will. It makes us wonder if things really are determined ahead of time, or can man’s action change things. Ultimately, that being said, structure and action are one in the end.