The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
Free Will Hunting
We are the people that make sure things run to plan - Richardson
On the front cover of "The Adjustment Bureau" DVD it states "Bourne meets Inception" and that is not a bad mini description because we have the frantic action which filled the Bourne movies and then the science fiction mystery similar to "Inception". But do you know what they missed something out and that it that "The Adjustment Bureau" is also a romance, yes we have an action, sci-fi, romance and it works. In fact "The Adjustment Bureau" works so well, entertaining visually and challenging you mentally that it makes you depressed because this sort of movie is a rarity is a sea of mundane mainstream pap.
As the results come in for a seat in the U.S. Senate, young politician David Norris (Matt Damon - Invictus) meets dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt - Charlie Wilson's War) in the men's room and finds himself falling for her. She has to go after they share a passionate kiss but a few days later they meet again, except it is only a fleeting meeting and David discovers that he is not destined to be with her, well that is according to the plan which has been set out for his life and the plan which the mysterious men from The Adjustment Bureau do their best to make him follow. But David feels so strong about Elise that he must decide whether to risk everything to be with her or just accept that his future is already laid out and he can't change it.
Now I am no sci-fi geek but I do recognize the name Philip K. Dick whose imagination and writing has given us the likes of "Minority Report", "Blade Runner" and "Total recall" and it is from a Philip K. Dick short story which we get "The Adjustment Bureau". As I am no sci-fi geek I can't tall you about Dick's short story or how much has been changed to turn it into a full movie but I can say it is an interesting concept that there are these mysterious men whose job is to make sure things go to plan, that our lives follow the path set out in a grand design. As such you have this thought provoking element which suggests that there is some controlling power, here they are called "The Chairman", that there are angel like figures who watch over us and as such touches on the subject of free will. And what is so good about this is that all of this challenges you to think, to debate whether or not "The Chairman" is some God like figure whether are destinies can be changed and so on and so fourth.
But that is just the concept behind "The Adjustment Bureau" and the way it is presented is via an action love story where we watch David Norris meet and fall for Elise and finds himself battling the mysterious men in hats to make their destiny together rather than separate as is written in the plan. As such we have this mystery of these men who are sent to control our lives chasing David around trying to stop him from finding Elise whilst we get this love story that he feels so strongly for her that he is willing to risk everything to be with her. It means that "The Adjustment Bureau" is a very well rounded movie because whilst we get chase scenes interweaving with the romantic element it is constantly challenging our brains.
You can also add that at times "The Adjustment Bureau" is funny with a witty look at how the election trail operates as we watch David explain the ridiculous lengths they go to to appeal to the public. Plus of course it is visually stylish from the look of the men in suits with their hats, through to the chase scenes which are both real and exciting. And of course you have doors which open up to another location which are so smoothly done they not only take your breath away but also often make you laugh when one minute you have a chase through a door which leads to another place and then the next minute it is only a closet.
The humour also comes from the casting of Matt Damon and Emily Blunt who have great chemistry throughout the movie but spark off of each other when it comes to their funny lines. And as such you also have to give credit to the writers for making the dialogue real and amusing, such as a scene on the bus where Elise catches David staring at her legs whilst she sleeps. But Damon and Blunt are not alone and you have to say that John Slattery, Anthony Mackie and Terence Stamp make great mystery men, ominously lurking in the shadows and then full of aggression as they give chase.
But there is one thing which spoils "The Adjustment Bureau" for me and it is an ambiguous ending. It almost feels like a cop out, as if the writers didn't know how to bring it to an end and so gave us one which whilst stirring up debate also leaves you feeling slightly cheated.
What this all boils down to is that "The Adjustment Bureau" is one of those rare modern movies which not only entertains in an almost mainstream way with action, humour and romance but also challenges you on a mental level. It is almost perfect except for an ambiguous ending which whilst thought provoking does feel like a cop out.
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