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Screen » Film

Love and Other Adjustments: Adjustment Bureau stirs up a melting pot of genres at hyper speed

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The Adjustment Bureau is a sci-fi action thriller, love story and parable all rolled into one and writer/director George Nolfi combines all the elements to tell a somewhat balanced story.

Based on Phillip K. Dick's 1954 short story, "Adjustment Team," about an insurance salesman who learns that he's a puppet on a string controlled by a clandestine organization. Writer/director George Nolfi, who also penned The Bourne Ultimatum screenplay, has made considerable, ahem, adjustments to the story, though it looks like the business suits (especially the hats) are holdovers from Dick's era.


This time around, the central character is politician David Norris (Matt Damon) whose aspirations are shattered mysteriously at the last moment. The plot takes a while to set up: the political goings-on of Norris, the out-of-nowhere love interest Elise (Emily Blunt) and finally, the mysterious figureheads in the Adjustment Bureau. We first meet Harry (Hurt Locker's Anthony Mackie) and then Richards (Mad Men's John Slattery) as the somewhat reluctant agents of the Adjustment Bureau. It doesn't take long to figure out that these guys are angels sent down by their "boss," The Chairman, to ensure certain people's destinies do not waver from the path by making tiny "adjustments." In other words, don't mess with the future.

That's where the love interest between David and Elise comes into play - will their immediate smitten love for each stand the test of time? Elise and David are never supposed to meet again, but they do, and that's when things get complicated.

Relying on a mandatory Hollywood make-out montage, some unnecessary backstory monologues and a minimum of goopy sappy dialogue, this flick is brought to life by Damon and Blunt's onscreen chemistry. Their first connection is unbelievably charming and that's how their chemistry stays put the entire movie. They seem to have a natural rapport and the core of Adjustment Bureau is based on their enduring love. Yes, this is definitely cornball country.

Considering his political leanings, it's funny seeing Matt Damon as an everyman politician running for the senate seat in New York, yet he comes off believable. A hilarious scene involves him in character being taunted by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. Adjustment Bureau touches on the themes of guilt, success and the American Dream, but it also toys with the notion of freewill overriding destiny. The film will probably please a lot of people, but even with its breakneck pace, I found it a bit too conventional. I was hoping that the ending would go another direction. This film is actually a valiant effort to stay fresh and interesting but ultimately, it's just a love story.

The Adjustment Bureau

★★1/2✩✩

Directed by George Nolfi

Starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terence Stamp, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery

Rated PG-13

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