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The film begins with John Anderton (Tom Cruise) arriving for work at the Precrime building. Precrime is basically a police force that uses three psychics - Agatha (Samantha Morton), Dasher, and Arthur - to catch criminals before they're able to murder someone. Today, Anderton is trying to stop a man named Howard Marx from murdering his wife and her lover. While Anderton works on ID'ing the perp, his assistant explains how the system works to government agent Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell).
He says that when a murder is predicted, the names of the victims are engraved on one red ball that comes out of a tube, and the killer on another red ball that also comes out of a tube. He also says that the only thing they have to run on is the images which the precogs (psychics) produce. Anderton finds the guy, and him and all his buddies go to the man's house and after some confusion due to all houses looking the same, they find the right house and stop Marx with three seconds to spare. They arrest him and give him a hat which supposedly freezes your brain.
After they get back to the precinct, Anderton takes Witwer down to meet the precogs and is told that Witwer is looking for flaws within the system. He says that's impossible, but after Witwer leaves him, he goes down to the containment room and looks for some anyway. He finds one in the file of someone who tried to kill a woman named Anne Lively by drowning her. He takes it, but not before being warned by the guard (Tim Blake Nelson). That night, we see Anderton buying some kind of drug on the street. He goes back home, and there we figure out he lost his son some time ago, and divorced his wife some time after.
The next day, we see Anderton showing the tape of Lively to his boss, Lamar Burgess (Max Von Sydow). Lamar says he'll look into it. Back at work, we see Anderton being told that there's a homicide coming in 36 hours. He says to get protection for the victim, Leo Crow, and he sees a 9 followed by a six but before he can give more orders, he sees himself pointing a gun at Crow, Crow saying "Anderton, wait!" and then Anderton saying "Goodbye Crow." and shooting him. Anderton's assistant asks if he said something, but he quickly wipes the image away and says no, then sends him off before he can get the ball with his name on it. He then grabs the ball himself, and leaves.
Once he's away in his self-controlled car (it drives itself), he calls Burgess and tells him whats going on. While they're talking though, the car starts to slow down, and Anderton realizes that they're onto him. After jumping across several cars on a big vertical road, he ends up in an alley surrounded by Precrime cops. One of them, Fletch (Neal McDonough) says "You don't have to run." Anderton just looks at him, says "You don't have to chase me." and takes off. There's a long complicated chase sequence after that which ends with him in an automated car factory. He gets on top of a crane, and fights with Witwer, but eventually falls into a car thats being assembled. He somehow survives and escapes, and goes to see the woman who invented precrime. She tells him that there is no way to escape killing the guy, and the fact that he's trying to find who he is is leading him inexorably closer to meeting and killing him. She then mentions that his only way out would be if he has a minority report, which is what occurs when Agatha, the strongest precog, has a different vision than the other two.
While this is going on, Witwer has effectively taken over Anderton's job. He is trying to clear the image himself, and finds that in addition to Anderton and Crow, there are two other people at the crime scene. One is a man in shades and a bike helmet. The other is a woman, but her image is fuzzy. They try to work on clearing up her face. While the other cops do that, Witwer goes to talk to Anderton's ex-wife, Lara. He isn't very subtle about asking if she knows anything about John's whereabouts, and she promptly kicks him out.
Anderton, meanwhile, has gone and gotten himself some new eyes, although he did keep the old ones to let him into Precrime HQ. While he was recuperating though, Fletch and another cop came to the building he was staying at and deployed some retina scanning spiders into the building - something which actually is pretty amusing, since one couple was arguing, stopped to get their scan, and then picked up right where they left off. Anderton hears them coming, and feels his way to the bathtub, which he fills with ice so the spiders won't detect his heat signature. He gets in and is almost in the clear when an air bubble comes to the surface and pops. The spiders hear it, and they start shocking him while Fletch runs up to his room to break down the door. Just before Fletch enters, the scan is completed and Anderton's retinal signature is not read, meaning the surgery worked. Fletch, the spiders, and the other cop leave.
The next day, Anderton is walking through some back alleys to try and break into Precrime HQ using his old eyes. He opens the bag he was keeping them in, but drops them, and they go rolling away. One of them falls into a sewer, but he catches the other, which is lucky, since he only needs one. He gets in, and just as Witwer and the others clear up the woman's face on the monitor (it's Agatha), they look down into the precog's room, and see Anderton taking Agatha. The cops move to intercept him, but Witwer says to let him go. Anderton takes Agatha to a Gap to get some clothes for her, but as they're leaving Agatha suddenly becomes VERY awake, and starts telling him where to go and when to move. He follows her advice, and he sees that a bunch of Precrime cops have descended on the mall and are hunting for the two of them. They escape, and when Cruise looks around he sees a billboard. On the billboard is a man wearing shades and a bike helmet. Anderton realizes that they are next to the building he's supposed to kill Leo Crow in. They find out he's staying in room 1009, but Agatha tells him he can still choose to leave and not kill Crow. He ignores her and goes upstairs to room 1009. He goes in to find....an empty room. No clothes, no bags, nothing. He then remembers about the 9 and the 6 from when he first saw himself kill Crow, and realizes that Crow is REALLY in room 1006. He goes there and brings Agatha in with him. Inside he finds a bunch of pictures of little kids on the bed, and among them is a picture of his own son. Crow enters, and Anderton raises his gun to kill Crow while Agatha keeps saying that he can choose. The numbers on Anderton's countdown-to-murder watch reach zero, and Anderton...
...doesn't shoot Crow. As he is reading Crow his Miranda rights, Crow says to Anderton that he was supposed to kill Crow. Crow then says that the guy he talked to told him to take those pictures. He never saw Anderton's son. Anderton asks him who set this all up, but Crow starts demanding that Anderton kill him, because that's the only way his family will get the money. Anderton keeps asking and he grabs Crow, but Crow grabs the gun and pushes Anderton's finger back far enough to make the gun go off. Crow goes flying out the window as people on the street shout "Murder!" Anderton looks out the window, then grabs Agatha and leaves. Later, we see Fletch and Wetwir talking about the murder, and we hear them say that they're going after him.
Anderton, meanwhile, has gone with Agatha to his ex-wife's place. Agatha says to the Andertons that there was once a lot of love here. She then tells John that he has to run again, but too late - the Precirme cops have arrived to take him away. They get Agatha back with the other precogs, and they lock Anderton up in what they call "the archives."
A few days later, Burgess is getting ready to celebrate the fact that Precrime has been voted in nationwide. The day of the party Witwer comes by to discuss details of Anderton's case. When he mentions something that doesn't add up right though, Burgess shoots him in the chest. That night, while getting ready for the party, Burgess is visited by Lara (Anderton's ex), and she tells him something John told her about Anne Lively, something about how her current location was missing. Burgess says that tomorrow he'll go over the records of people who had been tried to be killed by drowning, and Lara says that she never said anything about drowning. A look passes over his face, and he leaves to go to the party. For her part, Lara has gone to the archives. She tells the guard that she would like a word with her husband.
Back at the party, Burgess is finishing up his thank-you-for-making-Precrime-go-national speech.
As he is coming off the stage, his assistant says that he has a call. He takes the earpiece phone, and hears Anderton. Anderton tells him how he knows everything about what Burgess did. How he hired someone to kill Anne Lively knowing the Pre cogs would see it and stop it. He then killed her in the same fashion as the pre cogs saw it happen, so it would appear to be an "echo" of a different murder, and not an actual murder. The reason he killed her was because she was the mother of Agatha-the most powerful pre cog and Ann wanted to take her daughter back. Burgess set up the meeting in order to kill her so Agatha would have to stay at pre-crime.
Burgess goes out on a balcony, and Anderton asks what he'll do now. He says that if Burgess kills him, it proves that Precrime works, but he'll be spending too much time as part of the archives to be a part of it; if he doesn't kill Anderton, then the system is fallible, and he's out of work for the rest of his life. Faced with those choices, Burgess chooses a third option - he shoots himself just as the Precrime cops arrive. We then see an empty Precrime HQ and hear Anderton saying that in the sixth year of it's existence, Precrime was abandoned and all prisoners of it were released, although some were kept under close watch. Agatha, Arthur, and Dasher were moved to an undisclosed location to live out the rest of their lives in peace.
The final frames are of Anderton and Lara, now remarried and expecting their second child.
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