Though we are introduced to John Anderton early in the film, his true identity is all but obscured until he battles a crisis of self-perception that is not resolved until the closing minutes of Minority Report. Pre-Crime and its largest stakeholder Lamar Burgess undoubtedly tap into the vulnerability of Anderton, exploiting his past traumas to further his passion for the experiment. As the plot thickens, we begin to realize that Anderton’s self-perception has been adulterated by intentions of Burgess to ensure the long-term existence of pre-crime. What is most shocking about this near-future dystopia is how easy it was to transform the Anderton’s identity. By planting the faux murder of Leo Crow, Anderton goes from hero to outcast in a matter of minutes, exiling him from the world that once praised him.
This calls to mind the reflections in Martin Buber’s I and Thou, where he discusses how our identities are formed through others before ourselves. According to Buber, “The you encounters me by grace- it cannot be found by seeking” (Buber, 62). Upon seeing the precog’s vision of Leo Crow’s murder, Anderton leaves the precog division to attempt changing his future and current status as a criminal. This is an effective appeal to Buber’s philosophy of the relationship between ‘I and You’, in that Anderton cannot (and inevitably fails) to change his identity by himself. Thus it can be asserted that Anderton’s feeble attempts to alter his identity were destined for failure because only the ‘You’ can form the identity of the ‘I’.
Therefore, only through his later encounters with Agatha is Anderton successful in changing his perception. Once again this is evidenced in Buber’s I and Thou when he contends that “Relation is reciprocity” (Buber, 67). Anderton, who was once advised to treat precogs as if they were not human, chooses to do the opposite and instead acts in reciprocity with Agatha, creating a mutual beneficial bond that ultimately forms more fitting identities for the two of them. With Agatha’s assistance Anderton finds Crow, and in a pivotal moment in the film’s plot, realizes that the killing was a suicide rather than a murder. In this moment Anderton is reassured of who he truly is through his encounter with Crow, an epiphany he would not have had otherwise.
Though Crow’s very appearance in that apartment was based on deceit, their encounter, the imperative force that modifies the ‘You’ and ‘I’ in Buber’s philosophy, is what ultimately brings about the truth the Anderton’s identity. Later, in an ironic act of vindication just minutes after Burgess’ shining moment as the founder of the national pre-crime initiative, Anderton does what was done to him, altering the identity of Burgess in a split-second reveal of his murderous past. Burgess would have maintained his image as a visionary if no other ‘you’ had acted upon his identity, a true testament to the relationship of I and Thou. Therefore the film follows a plot that does not conform to a traditional revenge story but instead details a journey of self-rediscovery that bring Anderton back into the esteem of his peers.