Of all the technological advancements showcased in the film, how much of this stuff actually exists or is in the early stages of development?
Underkoffler: I would say a surprisingly large fraction. Almost an astoundingly large fraction. The mag-lev cars, for example. Although we don't have mag-lev technology that works on vertical surfaces, mag-lev technology has been around for many decades, spearheaded by professor Eric Laithwaite, who died not too long ago. And, of course, in Japan and Europe you have mag-lev trains. The nonlethal weapons are all variants or extrapolations of currently existing or under-development technology. It would be hard to identify anything that had no grounding in reality. I think that was very much by design.
I think by this he means that they took things that currently exist and then extrapolated them a little bit. There is nothing really out there, and this is why the film looks so pedestrian. That is what happens when you create a thinktank. The results are boring, even if it is a think tank of smart people like the Media Lab or GBN , both of which contain people I respect. To get something really out there, you need creative, obsessive, and somewhat antisocial people on their own. Like Philip K Dick. Or even Ridley Scott. I just don't think that Spielberg and the people around him have the sensibility of Dick, at all. Oddly, I think that Cruise's previous film Vanilla Sky had a much more Dickian sensibility than did Minority Report: besides the fact that Dick's favourite two questions (What is real? and What is human?) are central to that film, there's a scene in the middle of it which is lifted right out of A Scanner Darkly. Vanilla Sky is a remake of Alejandro Amenabar's Abre Les Ojos. Amenabar seems fond of stuff with a Dickian bent: I think it is there in The Others too, although that is in a genre somewhat removed from Dick. I wouldn't mind seeing Amenabar tackling something from Dick directly. That could be very interesting.