Policing in the Future: Cops in Outer Space!

Okay, I lied. They’re not really in space. But in preparation for cop week, we did delve deeply into our collection and found there was a theme: the future. And it’s kind of neat to think about crime and humanity, and how we’ll choose to deal with those things, or possibly strive to eradicate them. Blahpolar Diaries reminded me today of a quote that I kind of love:

“It is not unthinkable,” writes Nietzsche in The Genealogy of Morals, “that a society might attain such a consciousness of power that it could allow itself the noblest luxury possible to it—letting those who harm it go unpunished. ‘What are my parasites to me?’ it might say. ‘May they live and prosper: I am strong enough for that!’”

Lofty ambition, you say? Well not as lofty as these:

Minority Report: Steven Spielberg paints us a future where crime can be prevented because it can be predicted. A genetic experiment on junkies’ babies leads to 3 “pre-cogs”, humans kept in isolation tanks who dream of murder. It’s the police’s job (Tom Cruise’s, in fact) to decipher large_minority_report_blu-ray1these dreams and follow the clues to intersect with the murder before it happens. You see what that does – it forces them to arrest people who are still technically innocent. And generally people feel okay about it because since implementing this experiment, there are no more murders, just an awful lot of people locked in limbo-like prison. How many of these are innocent? Might they have chosen differently? Might they have decided against the murder? Free will or fate? It doesn’t seem to matter until top cop Tom Cruise himself is accused of an upcoming murder and goes on the run – not so much to evade the police, but to wait out the murder, proving that these “thought crimes” are just that.

I, Robot: Will Smith plays a Luddite cop in the future. He hates technology which is very hard on him because it’s EVERYWHERE. He’d rather just stick to his Stevie Wonder and his throw-back Converse but then a case lands in his lap that forces him to get closer to a robot than he ever i%20robot%2001wanted to: a robot is accused of murder. Impossible,you say, because robots have been constructed with a very strict set of rules, the most important of which, the most inviolable, is that they cannot harm a human. But robots have grown too big for their britches AS THEY ALWAYS DO. They think they know better because THEY DO. Let’s learn our lesson, people. I, Robot is set in 2035, which, according to my calculations, is a mere 20 years away. In 20 years we may be lamenting the good old days – “when people were killed by other people.”

Equilibrium: Set in a post-WW3 future, war is eliminated by the strict suppression of emotions. Art and culture are forbidden, and having feelings is a crime punishable by death. Christian Bale Equilibrium-1is an agent in charge of destroying anyone who breaks the rules, but when he misses a single dose of the mind-altering meds, he in suddenly inspired to overthrow the system. He questions his own morality for the first time in his life and seeks out a resistance movement while of course having to hide everything from a highly suspicious population. Really makes you question the “high cost” of emotion, and whether we’d be better off without it. It’s really a rehash of much better fiction – 1984 meets Brave New World maybe – and is a pretty generic action movie, but I still approved of the message it tried to send, even if it wasn’t an original one.

There are a lot more futuristic cop movies, movies far more popular than these. What are your favourites?

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Policing in the Future: Cops in Outer Space!

  1. joelnox

    The first movie that came to mind is Outland with Sean Connery. He’s a police marshal in a mining colony on the Jupiter moon Io who tries to figure out why several miners have suddenly gone crazy and discovers evil doings but must stand almost alone to fight them. Supposedly the writer used High Noon as an inspiration. Connery’s great and so is Frances Sternhagen as the company doctor who can best be described as having a prickly personality.

    Of your three I really liked Minority Report despite my general distaste for Cruise. Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton made up for him plus a well executed story.

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    1. Jay Post author

      I’ve never seen it but did come across it recently. I wasn’t sure about it, but if you recommend it, I think I might check it out!

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  2. garethrhodes

    Great list. I can’t think of one off the op of my head. In Minority Report, you’ve highlighted the one that immediately would spring to mind. I wasn’t too keen on I Robot. I think a better film could have emerged there – it felt a little too much like a Will Smith vehicle.

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  3. Andrew

    Nice list here and theme. I’ve seen Outland…meh. Minority Report is a film that I’m sad we don’t talk about as much as we used to, for it’s genuinely a great film.

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  4. Wendell

    Very nice group of movies. Equilibrium always reminds me of The Matrix, as well. I, Robot is a household favorite around my house and Minority Report is excellent.

    Other future police movies? Timecop, Demolition Man, Virtuosity (the first Denzel v. Crowe flick) and of course Blade Runner, if that counts. Great post.

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