Burgess is the director and founder of a highly developed system named PreCrime, designed to prevent murders before they happen, in the year 2054. The murders are predicted by three mutated humans known as Precogs, who together receive visions of the future that allow the PreCrime police to witness a murder before it takes place and thus stop it from ever happening. The strongest and most essential of the three Precogs is a female named Agatha, who occasionally has visions that differ from the other two, known as a "minority report". Knowing that minority reports could damage PreCrime's credibility, Burgess keeps this secret from the public.
When one of Burgess' employees, John Anderton (who decided to work for Burgess after his son Sean disappeared), is shown killing a man named Leo Crow whom he has never met within the next 36 hours by the Precogs, he is forced to prove his innocence by searching for the minority report while fleeing from a United States Department of Justice agent named Danny Witwer. After discovering that the minority report is contained within Agatha herself, he kidnaps her and attempts to have it extracted from her mind, only to find that it doesn't exist. Instead, he discovers footage of a woman named Ann Lively, who is revealed to be Agatha's drug-addicted mother who had been forced to sell her to PreCrime. After becoming sober, she had attempted to reclaim Agatha but was instead drowned in a lake by a hooded figure.
Anderton and Agatha travel to Crow's apartment and discover several photos of children, including Sean. As Crow enters, Anderton threatens to kill him (as the Precogs had predicted) but Crow reveals that he was hired to plant the photos and be killed in exchange for his family's financial wellbeing. Anderton hesitates, but Crow grabs Anderton's gun and kills himself. Anderton then flees with Agatha.
Later, Witwer studies the murders of both Crow and Lively and notices that there were in fact two attempts on her life (the first having been prevented by PreCrime). Deducing that Anderton has been framed, he divulges the details of his findings to Burgess, unaware that it was Burgess himself who murdered Lively and framed Anderton. Knowing that Agatha was crucial to making the PreCrime system work, Burgess knew he had to kill Lively but without the Precogs seeing it. Luring Lively to a lake with the promise of reuniting her with Agatha, Burgess waited for a hired assassin wearing a hood to attempt to murder her. After the assassin was captured by the PreCrime police and taken into custody, Burgess donned the same outfit and personally drowned Lively in the lake, knowing that her actual murder would look like an "echo" (an occasional copy of the Precpgs' prediction) of the first and would naturally be disregarded by PreCrime since they believed they already apprehended the culprit. Burgess shoots and kills Witwer using Anderton's gun that was recovered from Crow's apartment, knowing the murder will not be detected as Agatha is no longer connected to the system.
Burgess is later phoned by Anderton's ex-wife Lara who informs him that Anderton is with her. Burgess immediately sends the PreCrime police to arrest him and have Agatha reconnected to the PreCrime system, then comforts Lara while getting ready for a banquet celebrating PreCrime's success. However, he accidentally reveals himself as Lively's murderer, leading her to free Anderton from his imprisonment. Anderton phones Burgess while he is signing autographs and exposes him in front of all the guests by playing the full video of Lively's murder. Burgess leaves the banquet to pursue Anderton, just as the Precogs show Burgess killing him, but Anderton presents him with a dilemma: if Burgess kills Anderton, he will be locked away for the rest of his life but PreCrime will continue; if he spares him, PreCrime will be discredited and shut down. As Burgess struggles to make a decision, Anderton tells him that the PreCrime system is already flawed since people can change their own future once they are made aware of it. Knowing that Anderton is right, Burgess raises his gun, but rather than shooting Anderton, he instead shoots himself in the chest, begging for Anderton's forgiveness as he dies.
Burgess meeting with one of his employees, John Anderton
Burgess talking about the PreCrime system with Anderton at his home
Burgess trying to help Anderton after he is framed for a murder
Burgess sitting down
Burgess speaking with Agent Danny Witwer before murdering him
Burgess realises he has accidentally revealed himself as the culprit behind another murder
Burgess about to be exposed by Anderton while signing autographs at a banquet
Burgess deciding whether or not to kill Anderton during a confrontation.
Burgess begs for Anderton's forgiveness after shooting himself.