Review: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Director: George Nolfi

**

Fate’s a funny thing; one mintue, you’re a respected science fiction writer, the next Hollywood is butchering your work into digestible nuggets of mass entertainment. To date, adaptations of Philip K. Dick’s work have been many in number and mixed in quality. They have run the gamut from sublime (Blade Runner) to ridiculous (Paycheck). The Adjustment Bureau (adapted from the short story ‘The Adjustment Team’) falls somewhere between the two, unsure of what end it wants to be closer to.

Fate’s a funny thing; one minute you’re losing an election for the US Senate, the next you run into the love of your life who’s gatecrashing a wedding. Between this and Hereafter, Matt Damon seems to have cornered the market on guys who have been put upon by supernatural entities beyond their control. When David Norris (Damon) encounters the beautiful Elise (Emily Blunt) by apparent chance, neither he nor Elise suspect that this meeting has been pre-arranged. Behind these events lie the Adjusters, trilby-sporting suits who ensure that things go according to plan. The adjusters include Anthony Mackie, Terence Stamp and ‘Mad Men’s John Slattery. Respectively, they add plenty of gravitas/presence/humour to proceedings, whilst Damon and Blunt are absolutely electric together. Their chemistry is wonderful, especially early on as we watch them sassily flirt with one another.

Bourne Ultimatum co-writer George Nolfi makes a confident directorial debut, with enough visual panache to suggest a steady directing career ahead. However, his adaptation of Dick’s short story is another matter. No amount of disbelief can be suspended to compensate for the plot holes in The Adjustment Bureau, and large jumps ahead in chronology are the least of its problems. An all-powerful agency with apparent teleportation and telekinetic abilities can’t seem to stop one man running around a city. And who exactly are the ‘Bureau’? Is it God? A private corporation? The ending tries to both resolve everything and reveal nothing, and is understandably underwhelming. The Adjustment Bureau has moments of inspiration, and may surprise one or two romantic die-hards, but is too confused and aloof to truly impress. A movie about defying destiny for true love, and yet lacks passion? Fate sure is a funny thing.

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