A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the movie has some graphic violence, including sci-fi shooting, fistfights, brutal and graphic murders, and suicides. Anderton abuses illegal drugs. Viewers see a flashback of his son's abduction. The movie also has some gross and grisly visuals, particularly when Anderton has his eyes replaced as a way of avoiding the retinal scans that the police use to track everyone's whereabouts.
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What's the story?
50 years from now, in Washington, D.C., detective John Anderton (Tom Cruise) heads up an experimental "pre-crime" program that wires the brains of genetically altered "precogs" (short for "precognition") to computers that display their glimpses of the future. Anderton monitors the images to identify and catch murderers before they kill. There's no way to know if everyone who's arrested under this program would have become a killer, but since the program began there hasn't been a single murder in Washington. Anderton only feels alive when he's stopping a crime. At home, he's a lonely soul devastated by the probable murder of his son and a failed marriage, numbing himself with drugs and old home movies. The only thing he's able to feel is the satisfaction of sparing others from the agonizing pain that he's suffered. And then the precogs' identify Anderton himself as the next killer. He has to run -- and as he's running, he has to figure out how you prove that you're not going to commit murder.
Is it any good?
The movie is visually stunning, with brilliantly staged action sequences and vividly realized characters. As with Blade Runner, also based on a story by Philip K. Dick, this is a very traditional noir-ish detective plot set in an ominous future where the apparent ease created by technology has overtaken human individuality. How much privacy and justice would you be willing to give up to bring the murder rate down to zero? Anderton finds that it's less than he thought.
The most striking scene in the movie is Alderton's meeting with the scientist who created the precogs (a brilliant performance by Lois Smith), who never anticipated the direction her experiment would take. Like Norse god Odin, Anderton must give up his eyes to find wisdom; it's only when he literally looks through someone else's eyes that he can understand what he's seeing. Colin Farrell is mesmerizing as Anderton's rival, and Max von Sydow brings great depth to his role as Anderton's boss.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about private vs. public good. Is it worth violating the rights of some innocent people in order to prevent violent attacks? How would Anderton answer that question at the beginning of the movie, and how would he answer it at the end? What about the rights of the precogs? Is it fair to ask them to give up any kind of normal life if it will prevent people from being killed? Families can also discuss Anderton's inability to come to terms with the loss of his son. How do people go on after devastating losses? Also, what do you think daily life will be like half a century from now.
- In theaters: June 21, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: December 17, 2002
- Cast: Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Tom Cruise
- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Studio: DreamWorks
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 146 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, peril, murder, language, and drug use
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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