It's the year 2054 and there hasn't been a murder in Washington, D.C. over the past six years due to the work of a police operation known as Pre-Crime. Run by Lamar Burgess (MAX VON SYDOW) who invented it with the reclusive Iris Hineman (LOIS SMITH), the system utilizes the premonitions of three psychics, known as Pre-Cogs - including Agatha (SAMANTHA MORTON) - who have visions of pending murders.
Examining and piecing together those fragmented views, cops such as John Anderton (TOM CRUISE) and his partner Gordon Fletcher (NEAL McDONOUGH) figure out who's going to kill whom as well as when and where the murder will take place. Racing against the clock, they then arrest the perpetrator before the event actually occurs, and then send them off to a prison containment facility overseen by Gideon (TIM BLAKE NELSON).
All of the system works and there's a plan to take it nationwide, but Danny Witwer (COLIN FARRELL) of the Justice Department has reservations about the legality and morality of the whole setup, especially when he learns that John is a drug addict whose wife, Lara (KATHRYN MORRIS), left him after their young son disappeared and was presumably killed years ago.
Things then become more complicated when John is seen in the next round of psychic visions as a pending murderer. Not recognizing the upcoming victim or why he might be inclined or forced to kill him, John goes on the run, eventually enlisting the aid of Lara, Agatha and an underground eye surgeon, Dr. Eddie (PETER STORMARE), all while trying to clear his name and figure out whether he's being set up or really will kill another person.