Stephen Colbert's A Late Show John Oliver's Last Week Tonight discussion regarding China's justification of oppressing their citizens as reminiscent of the movie Minority Report that got my ire rising again on this one. But, sadly, not for the reason they were going for.
Okay that is both insane logic and also the exact plot of Minority Report which if you haven't seen it, very briefly, the year's 2054. Tom Cruise is John Anderton is chief of Washington DC's pre-crime police department where murders are stopped before they happen. Now, ethically there are some questions about the system, for instance can you really be sure an individual will commit to the crimes that the pre-cogs say they'll commit? Oh yeah, the precogs they are bald freaks who sleep in an indoor swimming pool and they scream whenever they visualize a future murder. I think they're all siblings or aliens or babies, I can't remember, but basically the murder rate in the city is zero. Anderson's doing well and so the status quo remains. Now one day the pre-cogs generate a prediction that John Anderson will murder a man he doesn't even know in just 36 hours. But it couldn't be, that's our hero, isn't it? So he stages an escape, gets an eye transplant so he can't be detected by the city's eye-based surveillance system, finds out he's being framed then finds out that Max Von Siddow, oh yeah, by the way, he's in this too, is going to kill Anderson but decides not to and Anderson doesn't kill the person that he supposedly was going to, disproving the very basis of the pre-crime system and proving that people do have free choice. So in the end they shut down the program and send the precogs away to live on a farm but not the death kind we assume anyway it's scary but it's pretty good. Three stars.
Which is about right. And yes, while the piece is meant to underline the action of China (and can be viewed in toto, above) I also got that ticket in the back of my neck about how the ending of that movie was changed, with the removal of just one line of text that seemed to attack the moral ambiguity central to the movie. Originally the pre-cogs were shut down, and everyone went back to normal and cuddled on a sofa or something, I forget, but it was missing something big and I only found out what later.
In the 'what happened next' lines spoken by Cruise that ended the film showing how the system was dismantled, it removed the final line, spoken by Cruise, "The following year, there were 116 murders in the District of Columbia". It suggests everything has a price, that there are decisions that have to be made, and principles have a cost. ANd it would have thrown the film into some kind of perspective, rather that ending on what seems like a rose coloured dream sequence…
A better film with or without it? You tell me.