The Adjustment Bureau

11 Apr

Title: The Adjustment Bureau
George Nolfi
Writer: George Nolfi, loosely based on a short story by Philip K. Dick
Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Terrence Stamp, Michael Kelly, Anthony Ruivivar
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image
106 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
Rotten Tomatoes:


George Nolfi, a screenwriter who had penned two Matt Damon films (The Bourne Ultimatum and Ocean’s Twelve), makes his directorial debut here, a film he also wrote loosely basing it upon a Philip K. Dick short story, and enlists Mr. Damon for the leading role in this film.

The Adjustment Bureau is a smart film, and in Mr. Damon it has one of the most consistent actors in the business taking on the leading role, and with him stars Emily Blunt as his co-star, and she’s another very reliable actress, and the chemistry the two strike up in this one is probably what makes this film as good as it is, it’s completely believable, and just really elevates this one by making us care about their characters and believe what they have going on between them.

And this is a film for smart people, kind of like a more gentle version of The Matrix, but one that will still be able to elicit some pretty cool conversations about faith and free will, the philosophical issues on display here are pretty deep, but, because they’re combined with such charming actors and a lighter tone than the aforementioned sci-fi masterpiece, they’re easier to swallow.

That lighter tone is because of the love story that’s also very much present here, one that’s far less concerned with “Are you really The One?” issues than that of Neo and Trinity but still pretty great to watch on-screen, especially because, as I said above, Mr. Damon and Ms. Blunt have some really believable and outstanding chemistry. Because, you see, Mr. Damon’s character falls in love with Ms. Blunt’s and then his efforts to be with her seem to be avoided by a mysterious group.

This is the group of people the title of the film refers to, some sort of accountants that exist to adjust your fate. And Mr. Damon’s David finds out about them, and actually meets them, and they tell him that they’ll have his mind wiped if he continues to try and find her and fall in love with her, and that he’s better off just stopping his pursuit. But of course any guy would never stop going after a girl who looks anything like Emily Blunt, much less if it seems you can’t stop bumping into her.

If you’re thinking this all sounds just like a love story then you’d be right, but behind this love story there are things that go quite deep, and the combination of the two, of the oddball romance side with the more complex metaphysical part of it, makes for a really fun film.

And you know what else? You just have to love how this film looks. I mean honestly, the cinematography is truly superb, done by John Toll who has two Oscars (Legends of the Fall and Braveheart) the film is shot in a way that’s just tremendously effective, and that really goes a long way to convey David’s sense of frustration about his situation.

I know a couple of friends who had trouble with the ending, one told me she really liked the film considerably less because of it, the other one told me it completely ended up ruining the film for him. And, on paper, that ending, which I won’t spoil for you here, doesn’t do it for me at all, it’s not my favorite way to end this story, it kind of makes it all more on the light and cutesy side, instead of dark and complex which it should be considering this was based on a Philip K. Dick story. However, that’s on paper, because when I saw the film I liked the ending because of what the rest of the film had done to me to get there, in the context and style of the film that ending does work, there probably could have been a better one, but the one we do get is totally fine by me.

The philosophical dilemmas on display here are ones we’ve seen presented to us time and time again, but this one goes at it head-on, it asks us about what we believe, if our fate is predetermined and we just have to watch it all go by, or if what you do can alter it. This film presents this group of people, all wearing awesome suits and fedoras, who adjust things in order for things to go by their predetermined course of action, and it also presents two people in love who are trying to run away from them.

However, like I said, this is still a lighter film considering the issues presented. And that’s both a good thing and a bad thing for The Adjustment Bureau. It’s a good thing because, by making it light and choosing to focus just as much on the romantic element of it all, which has its bits of funny moments in it, it doesn’t ruin itself by going over-the-top with the deeper issues. However, there was also a chance that by being a bit more risky, and thus choosing to delve into those deeper subjects, it would have tackled them in really smart and great ways, and with that it may have turned into a pretty fantastic film. But it didn’t do that, so we’ll never know unless some adjusters come here and change the film, but for what it did this is still a pretty phenomenal film, and I’d advise you to change the course of your upcoming movie-seeing day and make sure you see it.

Grade: B+


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