The movie presents Captain John Anderton (Tom Cruise) as the head of the Washington D.C police force. The law enforcing agencies apply one of the most sophisticated technologies in preventing crime. The technology makes it difficult for murderers to accomplish their objectives making the city crime-free. Unfortunately, the head of the police service is an addict of an illegal drug. Colin Farrell is given the responsibility of evaluating the behavior of the police boss using modern technology, whereby he determines that Anderton will kill a man named Leo Crow in less than thirty-six hours.
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Anderton is worried to the extent of seeking advice from the lead researcher named Dr. Iris Hineman, who notifies him that the technology can give different predictions. The doctor observes that the two reports might be similar, but the third one is considered a minority report where the predicted murderer might do something different. Even though it had been predicted that Anderton would kill Crow, it was later revealed that Crow wanted to die to benefit his family.
The main subject of the movie centers on free will and determinism where philosophers ask the question whether the future is already determined or free will influences it. The idea of using precogs to determine the future is highly debatable because Anderton was not prepared to kill Crow; instead, it was a creation of criminal gangs who wanted compensation. Some philosophers allege that Anderton’s knowledge of the future was the cause of Crow’s death.
The information presented is contradictory because of the accusation of an individual causes murder. If Anderton were not accused of murdering Crow in the future, he would not have committed the criminal act. The murder of Crow was a self-fulfilling prophecy to Anderton. It is argued that free will was never interfered with because Anderton managed to control his actions, but the precog visions played a role in making a choice. In the fourth scene, contradictions between free will and determinism are brought out because the pre-crime system infringes on the rights of individuals given the fact it leads to the arrest of innocent people.
Even though it is claimed that people arrested would commit a crime, Anderton observes that the purported offense is simply an image that will never take place. To prove his point, Anderton threw a wooden ball towards Witwer’s direction who tries to catch it unsuccessfully. Asked why he tried to catch it before it fell, he claimed that the instrument would fall. However, Anderton challenges him to explain why the instrument never fell. According to Anderton, it does not mean the ball would fall if Wetwer never intervened to catch it. Kowalski had a different view, as he claimed that the ball has no free will meaning it acts based on the laws of physics. While Anderton relies on precog visions in giving his explanation, Kowalski is scientific, as he gives testable facts.
According to Peter Van Inwagen (38), the main problem is not whether an individual has free will, but the issue is whether free will is compatible with determinism. The philosopher suggests that the two are incompatible. He defines determinism by assigning it three subordinate notions, one being a proposition. This notion is closely related to other notions, such as truth, denial, and entailment. In the movie, the precogs are believed to be perfect because they determine the future behavior of an individual. However, Kowalski suggests that technology only gives knowledge of the conditional future. He tries to justify his position by giving two examples one entails an incident where Agatha guides Anderton through a mall.
Agatha reveals to Anderton that he could have come across dangerous things that would have harmed his life, but he is helped to sail through smoothly. Again, she narrates to Anderton and his wife what would have happened to their only child could he have survived. In the first instance, Agatha is aware of what Anderton could have done since he has the freedom to do so, especially when presented with various options. In the second example, Agatha understands what Anderton’s son could have done, as well as the actions of other people on his life.
The new technology meant to control crime plays an important role in controlling the behavior of individuals. For instance, an individual is forced to change his or her behavior in case he or she had planned to murder. Anderton would not have known the future without the predictions suggested by the precog visions. Nothing came as a surprise to Anderton because he was already aware that he would kill somebody.
It is concluded that an individual has the freedom to do anything, but he or she should consider the plight of others. This means an individual’s life is predetermined in the sense that he or she has to follow the law strictly. One person cannot come up with a radical decision to kill the other without sufficient reason. Similarly, an individual cannot be forced to do something that he or she does not desire.
Inwagen, Peter. An Argument for incompatibilism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Print.