In Minority Report (the movie version) why didn't the precogs see the alternate future that Anderton/Burgess created for themselves?

If the precognition was true the whole time, then why did they see Anderton's actions as a preconcieved murder when in actuality it seemed as if it was an accident that Anderton shot Crow? And with Burgess, he didn't kill Anderton, he killed himself. Why didn't the precogs see this event?

I won't go into the details of what happened in the short story as opposed to the movie.


The output from the precogs appears to be heavily fragmented - as the first pre-crime in the movie shows - so it is possible that while precogs can detect events, they do miss on details. It takes a skilled investigator like Anderton to piece it together into a coherent picture.

The murder of Crow was not premeditated - which is why it came out as a redball (if I recall correctly). Shooting him was still murder.

With Burgess:

Maybe the precogs can't pickup on suicide? Or, the point of the movie: the future is not necessarily as fixed as intimated at the start of the film.

  • it was a brown one. And accidentally shooting someone is manslaughter, isn't it? – OghmaOsiris Jun 23 '11 at 2:52
  • so it was - as for manslaughter vs murder... the mechanism by which the precogs detect future crime probably doesn't do too well at distinguishing this, especially as in this particular situation, emotions (and anger) are very strong... – HorusKol Jun 23 '11 at 3:43
  • The way they described it in the movie was,"There's nothing more destructive to the metaphysical fabric that binds us than the untimely murder of one human being by another." Which I would think if someone didn't mean to kill someone else, it wouldn't be based off emotions and therefore wouldn't cause the precogs to see it. At least that's my interpretation of it. – OghmaOsiris Jun 23 '11 at 15:23
  • 1
    'untimely murder' - whether the actual event was legally manslaughter or not, I'd still say that the event played out as a murder - he had gone there to confront the guy and even though it ended up as an accident in a fight, it is still an emotionally charged event and the untimely death of a human being. Course, if we'd seen a bar brawl or something come up in the precogs records, then that would help clear the issue :) – HorusKol Jun 23 '11 at 23:15

The precogs saw Anderton shoot him. They discovered that he went there KNOWING he was going to kill him. The date was in the (relatively) far future.

The precogs see flashes of these future events, and what they saw was Anderton and Crow in the room, with Anderton knowing he was going to kill Crow. They saw the gun firing, and Crow dying.

Thus, the 'premeditated murder'.

As for the second part, it didn't happen because Anderton never left the jail at all (number 2 on that page).

As stated in the Cracked article linked to:

Less obvious is the shiny, happy ending of the neo-noir Minority Report, with the three rescued psychics living out their lives in an idyllic cabin right out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. It feels so out-of-place that it could very well be a delusion of Tom Cruise's Xenu-infested skull. Remember, Cruise's character was briefly imprisoned in that futuristic iJail where the prisoners' brains remained free to dream. It's possible that the "escape" and heroism was all part of the fantasy that keeps the prisoners from escaping (just like the "Zion is also the Matrix" theory).

After Cruise's character 'escapes' from the jail, the tone of the movie changes significantly (if subtly). In Anderton's mind, the good guys win. The bad guy is faced with his choice, and makes it - PreCrime goes down the toilet as people are faced with the mutability of the future.

Except that it didn't happen. Anderton stayed in prison, never escaping. The bad guys win, and PreCrime expands.

  • I don't think that article is reliable as it is nothing but fan-inspired alternate endings. – OghmaOsiris Jun 23 '11 at 15:10
  • @Oghma: true, it's explicitly stated to be crazy fan theories. That said, it hangs together fairly well, and can stand as a reasonable interpretation of the movie. It's not an 'alternate' ending in that anything in the ending is changed, it's just a different way to look at the ending. – Jeff Jun 23 '11 at 15:21

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