“The Adjustment Bureau”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Fate is a tricky thing. Some would say that you’re in control of the outcome of your own life, and others would say it is all just part of the master plan. And, both might just be right; well that’s to say if there is any truth to the new Matt Damon film, The Adjustment Bureau. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, The Adjustment Bureau brings a Hitchcockian take to Dick’s usual “what if” theories. I’m a big fan of his work including: Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly to name just a few. But what is really great about writer/director George Nolfi’s take on “The Adjustment Team,” is his non-Hollywood approach to the material. Most filmmakers would want the agents of the Adjustment Bureau to be these gun toting, bad-ass “do as we say or we’ll end you” type of characters, but Nolfi opted to go the exact opposite direction with his bureau. They do impose authority, but at the same time they also have this sense of the common man, even though they are clearly implied as not being human. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just leave it at that. But, it’s Nolfi’s realistic look at this sci-fi, if not supernatural world, that really makes this movie something you might not expect.

In The Adjustment Bureau, Matt Damon plays David Norris an up-and-coming politician on the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate. But, when his first campaign for the Senate seat fails, the wind seems to be taken out of David’s sails and it could mean the end of his political career. That’s where fate needs to step in, or I should say the Adjustment Bureau? You see, David Norris has a much bigger role to play in the grand scheme of things, which is why the bureau has been watching him for quite some time so that his life can continue to go according to the master plan. In order to insure that David stays on track, the bureau sets up a chance meeting for him in a men’s room with a contemporary dancer named Elise, played by Emily Blunt. They hope that Elise’s free spirit will inspire David to give a speech that will set his political path back on track. Now, I’ve heard a lot of critics and people talking about this film, and it amazes me just how many people have no real idea of the reasoning behind the conflict in this movie. Most people think that David gets into trouble with the bureau because he manages to meet Elise again on a city bus. But, the real reason is that he makes it to his office 10 minutes earlier than he was supposed to, and sees the bureau when he shouldn’t have. The Elise thing is just a coincidence, one that later is revealed to be a much bigger problem, and yes ultimately becomes the new conflict. But this whole thing starts because of solar panels, not Elise.

I really liked The Adjustment Bureau! It was really well done. Now, I got to see a test screening for The Adjustment Bureau last year, and even though I really liked it, the ending kind of knocked the rating down a bit for me. But, I’m very glad to report that that ending is no longer in the film. (If you would like to know the alternate ending, I’ll be posting it in the comment section.) There are a few holes here and there when it comes to the inner working of the bureau, but they can easily be forgiven. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have amazing chemistry together and really carry the supernatural premise of this movie into a romantic thriller. As I mentioned before, the personality and attitude of the bureau agents was great, I think having it be just like any other job to them was a brilliant move. I like that even when they call in the heavy hitter Thompson, played by General Zod himself Terence Stamp, he’s still a normal Joe. Sure he’s a little bit more cold-hearted than the others, but at no point does he threaten or use violence to get the job done. He just doesn’t sugarcoat it for David. There need to be more movies like this! The more I think about this move the more I like. It might be a bit early, but I think it’s safe to say The Adjustment Bureau will be in the running for a few Banshees next year.