Platinum Data or プラチナデータ (2013)
Platinum Data or プラチナデータ (2013) is based on work by Keigo Higashino who’s usually very reliable as a provider of source material. This first appeared as “Platina Data” which was published as a serial by Papyrus in 2006, and was later fixed up as a novel by Gentosha and published in 2010. I suppose I might be inclined to think the film of some value if I had not also seen Minority Report (2002), another science fiction film, albeit set in the year 2054. Just to remind you, the technology at the heart of this earlier film is that three precogs are slaved together to predict when a murder will occur. The police are then able to intervene and prevent the killing, consigning the murderer (guilty in mind only) to a deep-sleep jail. The theme of the film may rightly be characterised as a meditation on the relationship between determinism and free will.
So this film is set in Japan in 2017 and it has an all-singing, all-dancing computer system going through beta testing. It predicts both physical characteristics and behavioural patterns based on an advanced form of DNA analysis. If the tests are successful, the government has pledged to pass legislation authorising the collection of DNA from all Japanese citizens. Even babies will surrender a sample to ensure the database is kept up-to-date. Once the collection is complete, the quality of the data will represent platinum status, i.e. the computer’s mathematical models will be able to use any trace DNA to identify the probable offender. Although the police force will not become redundant, the investigation of all serious crime will be handed over to the machine. Enhancing the DNA capacity, there’s also a facial recognition system so that individuals may be tracked through the thousands of surveillance cameras placed throughout public spaces both outside and in common areas inside buildings. Once a suspect is identified, the system can guide the police to arrest him or her. The assumption is that the DNA predisposes the body to grow in particular ways and for the personality to have certain predictable traits, i.e. it’s a determinist system.
This fairly quickly looks a shaky proposition because once the system enters testing, there are thirteen instances where the DNA found at crime scenes cannot be identified. One of these crimes is a serial killer and, when the killer strikes again, the DNA found under the fingernails of one victim, Saki Tateshina (Kiko Mizuhara) proves to be that of Ryuhei Kagura (Kazunari Ninomiya). These are the two people responsible for writing most of the code for this DNA computer system. Detective Reiji Asama (Etsushi Toyokawa) is immediately suspicious. This killing does not match the others in terms of motive, nor is there any clear reason for one of the two brilliant coders to kill the other. But, as is always required in this type of film, Kagura goes on the run and we’re subjected to several rather tedious chases. For the record, the two coders met in hospital. One was an idiot savant. The other was suffering multiple personality disorder following the suicide of his father.
If you should decide to watch this movie, then remember the point of Minority Report. One of the precogs has an agenda which was to expose the murder of her mother. So this “trio” of personalities also proves to have an agenda. Yes, there’s a problem with the design of this system and perhaps, just perhaps, the DNA analysis is not infallible. Perhaps people are able to act outside the predicted behavioural parameters if the circumstances warrant it. Or there may be a different problem. If I was feeling more benign, I might dignify this as a more dystopian film. At least the government in Minority Report might have been altruistic in its intentions. This means you only watch the rather tedious and predictable Platinum Data or プラチナデータ if you want to see some quite pleasing future computer systems in operation and some cool locations. The look and feel of the graphics is pretty good. It’s a shame the plot proves so derivative and undercooked. Perhaps it reads better than it looks.
For other work based on Keigo Higashino’s writing, see:
11 Moji no Satsujin or 11文字の殺人 (2011)
Broken or The Hovering Blade or Banghwanghaneun Kalnal or 방황하는 칼날 (2014)
Bunshin or 分身 (2012)
Galileo or Garireo or ガリレオ
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 1 and 2
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 3 and 4
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 5 and 6
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 7, 8 and 9
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 10 and 11
Galileo: The Sacrifice of Suspect X or Yôgisha X no kenshin (2008)
Midsummer Formula or Manatsu no Houteishiki or 真夏の方程式 (2013)
The Murder in Kairotei or Kairoutei Satsujin Jiken or 回廊亭殺人事件 (2011)
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 1 to 4
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 5 to 8
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 9 to 12
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 1 to 5
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 6 to 11
White Night or Baekyahaeng or 백야행 : 하얀 어둠 속을 걷다 (2009)
The Wings of the Kirin or Kirin no Tsubasa: Gekijoban Shinzanmono or 麒麟の翼 ～劇場版・新参者～ (2012)
For a Galileo novel, see Salvation of a Saint.