Steven Spielberg has undoubtedly left an undeniable mark on the film industry. And how could he not? With masterpieces like “Jaws”, “Empire of the Sun”, “Jurassic Park”, “Schindler’s List”, and the “Indiana Jones” series under his belt… well, it’s enough to say that a man of such caliber doesn’t need to wait for a table at a restaurant. 😀
Among Spielberg’s more intriguing ventures is the 2002 science fiction action thriller “Minority Report,” starring Tom Cruise. The film garnered the affection of both audiences (including mine) and critics. It was also based on the eponymous novel by Philip K. Dick, whose previous works had been adapted to film (“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, known as “Blade Runner”, and “The Man in the High Castle”, etc).
So why this introduction? Well, it’s actually quite simple. The movie, if you recall, runs for two and a half hours, and it’s neither boring nor needlessly drawn out, right? Now, the book is 70 pages long. Yes, you read that correctly. SEVENTY PAGES. Is this the same “Minority Report”? The fact is that Steven Spielberg made some modifications to the literary work (but we won’t delve into the film here). However, this does not diminish the fact that both artists are brilliant in their own ways.
In the (distant) future, John Anderton is the chief of a special police department that apprehends criminals before they even think of committing a crime (yes, you read that right). Three individuals (or rather, mutants), known as “precogs”, are connected to a unique device that records all their babblings and brain activities. However, they predict with great accuracy who will commit a crime… presumably (since these people are arrested before they even think of committing the crime). Before the potential perpetrators even contemplate committing the potential crime (phew, that’s a lot of potentials…), a card pops out of the machine with the name and surname of the potential criminal.
For John Anderton, everything seems great. He’s the founder and head of this famous department. There hasn’t been a murder for years. He has a young and attractive wife. A good life. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, let’s say on the same day you meet your future successor at work, and then a card appears with your name on it, stating you’ll kill a person you’ve never met, who you later find out is an influential military figure (and in the future, the military and police aren’t exactly on good terms), plus your successor begins to chase you as the new chief, and your wife seems to turn against you, and you have 24 hours to prove your innocence… or maybe your guilt?
Now that’s what I call a rough start of the workweek…
Since this is a short and dynamic novel, I’ll add just a few words. In my opinion, “Minority Report” is not Philip K. Dick’s best work in terms of writing style, but it definitely touches on an interesting topic.
Do we really have the right (and the ability) to predict crimes before people even think (if they ever think) about committing them? And to create concentration camps for people who might think about doing something bad?
Can we (and should we) play with someone’s free will?
Also, the novel reflects the author’s views on the Cold War and whether such immense power should be in the hands of individuals to decide the fates of nations. These are some of the intriguing questions raised in this novel.
Question for readers: Do you think we need such a powerful force to predict things we might not have even thought of yet?
(Originally reviewed: 15/10/2018)