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The Adjustment Bureau (Review)

The Adjustment Bureau (Review)

Bourne to be mild
Feb 26, 2011
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The Adjustment Bureau
Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi, Thriller Release Date: 03/03/2011 Runtime: 106 minutes Country: USA


Director:  George Nolfi Writer(s): 
George Nolfi

Philip K. Dick

Cast: Anthony Mackie, Emily Blunt, John Slattery, Lisa Thoreson, , Michael Kelly
The Adjustment Bureau (Review), reviewed by Anders Wotzke on 2011-02-26T00:01:42+00:00 rating 3.0 out of5

Science fiction is a genre renowned for its futuristic visions and cerebral concepts, but at the heart of many famed sci-fi fables is a classic romance: Han Solo and Princess Leia (Star Wars), Neo and Trinity (The Matrix), Decard and Rachel (Blade Runner), and even WALL-E and EVE (WALL-E). With that in mind, it’s understandable why long-time writer, fist-time director George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum) decided to liberally rework Philip K. Dick’s short story Adjustment Team so that its heafty deterministic themes revolved around something a little more intrinsic to our being: man’s quest to get freaky with a woman. All in the name of love, of course.

The Adjustment Bureau stars the ever-busy Matt Damon (Hereafter) as the aspiring New York politician David Norris (sadly of no relation to Chuck). After losing the election for Senate due to a last-minute scandal, David’s spirits are raised when he chances upon a contemporary dancer named Elise (Emily Blunt; Gulliver’s Travels) in the men’s bathroom, the circumstances of which are far more innocent than those you’re probably imagining, I’m sure. The two are quite clearly made for each other, but a group of mysterious men in suits and bowler hats — lead by an enjoyably wry John Slattery of TV’s Mad Men — seem to think otherwise. According to their master plan, David and Elise were never supposed to meet, and it’s now their job to adjust their respective futures so that they never will again.

It’s a tantalising premise, and for the first half, the film stimulates both emotionally and intellectually. Nolfi spends the right amount of time sympathetically developing David into someone who already feels as though his life is being dictated by others; his political advisors, for instance, determine everything he says to everything he wears. That’s why the spontaneous bathroom encounter David has with Elise is not your typical bumping-of-the-heads ploy that usually brings characters together in romantic films. No, it’s an important, life changing moment in which the carefree Elise inspires David to take control of his existence, starting with his love life. You can almost see the sparks fly between Damon and Blunt during this crucial scene.

the adjustment bureau081 e1298454216799 600x259 The Adjustment Bureau (Review)

It’s such a shame, then, that The Adjustment Bureau gradually becomes the kind of film where Matt Damon runs in front of traffic and bursts through doors in order to stop a wedding at the last minute. Perhaps it was always going to be that kind of movie. Perhaps I was too preoccupied by the philosophical questions raised by the intriguing sci-fi premise to realise. After all, I only became aware just how generic the film was becoming by the 60-minute mark, at which point every burning question had been met with an answer. Consequently, with nothing left for us to mull over, the film degenerates into a repetitive game of cat-and-mouse in which Roger Sterling chases Jason Bourne through a bunch of magical doors. Sure, it’s not nearly as tedious as it could have been – after all, we still care for these people given their strong initial characterisation – but it’s disappointing nonetheless. For a while there, The Adjustment Bureau was on track to being as memorable as the films I mentioned at the beginning of this review. But alas, its future was adjusted.

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