REVIEW: The Adjustment Bureau

21 06 2011

I’m at a bit of a loss as to what I can write about “The Adjustment Bureau.”  I saw the movie nearly five months ago, and the fact that I can recall so little about it probably speaks the most about its quality.  It’s more than a halfway decent thriller featuring two very attractive leads in Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, but it’s not exactly remarkable or memorable.

Based on a Philip K. Dick short story – and to be honest, what high concept thriller isn’t nowadays – the movie revolves around Senatorial candidate and future Presidential hopeful David Norris (Damon) who goes off the set “plan” for his life as written by the Adjustment Bureau, a group of caseworkers who ensure the execution of their mysterious Chairman’s will.  This is largely due to his interactions with the avant-garde ballerina Elise (Blunt), which begin with flirtations but progress towards romance and a relationship.  As David struggles to sort out his feelings for her, he must also weigh the input of the Bureau, who insists that they never be together.  David decides that he must write his own life rather than submit to some pre-written script for his fate.

The movie has some religious implications through its plot and some undertones courtesy of new director George Nolfi, but they feel slightly exploitative and immature.  If you are going to draw comparisons to God or throw religion clearly and obviously on the table, you need to have the ideas fully fleshed out and clearly communicated, two things I don’t think Nolfi did.  Predestination and fate are big questions that have baffled theologists for years, so don’t think that “The Adjustment Bureau” will give you a definitive answer or break any new ground in the field.  At the end of the day, it’s still just an entertaining thriller.  B

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One response

5 07 2011
Andrew

For me, the film never established tension or put anything at stake and wound up feeling somewhat deflated and limp as a result. Sure, we’re told by the Bureau Brute Squad what fate will befall David and Elise should they remain together and we’re told what the Bureau can do David to guarantee he stops his quest for love for good, but “told” is kind of the problem. Nolfi needed to show, rather than tell, so as to give us a reason to fear for the leads and make the ending chase mean something.

Save that element, this is solid; Damon and Blunt have great chemistry together, and there’s no time I do not like seeing John Slattery on screen. (Come to that– why bother replacing him as the heavy at all? The first half of the movie builds him and invests him in David’s and Elise’s lives, and then he gets ejected for unnecessary reasons.) I enjoyed it, but I thought it could have been a lot more than it was.

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