Release Date: March 4, 2011
Director: George Nolfi
Writer: George Nolfi, Philip K. Dick (short story “Adjustment Team”)
Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Michael Kelly, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Lisa Thoreson, Florence Kastriner, Phyllis MacBryde, Natalie Carter, Chuck Scarborough, Jon Stewart, Kar, RJ Konner, Susan D. Michaels, Gregory P. Hitchen, Greory Lay, Lauren Hodges, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Darrell Lenormand, Amanda Warren, Michael Bloomberg, Anthony Ruivivar, Sandhi Santini
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 106 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures, Media Rights Capital
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Thriller
There are countless possessions most take for granted, reaching to every corner of life. They range from family, shelter, health, and even the ability to read this review, or hear mouse clicks as you navigate through internet pages. At the top of that list, could be your God given free will, where every day decisions you think are your own are not. So imagine a world, where you can only make the small decisions about what tooth paste you use, or the fragrance you wear to work. But choices like where you eat, your career, and who you’ll marry are all controlled by some higher power.
Would you want to know, or do you feel ignorance in this sense is bliss? I don’t care for either and the idea is not an option. It’s the most unethical act possible, but what if it’s all justified? The life I just described takes place in ‘The Adjustment Bureau,’ where a secret agency monitors the whole world and makes our decisions for us. And if by chance, your actions deviate from a ‘plan’ the bureau has laid out for you, they won’t stop until it’s all put back in place. It’s a mystery on how the bureau manages such tasks controlling us like puppets on a wire, and you’ll just have to see it to figure out how. One character challenges the bureau, refuses their rules, and is driven to cut off all the strings.
The character who refuses this lifestyle is David Norris (Matt Damon.) He’s running for Senator for the State of New York, and being the youngest in history has a fighting chance to win. He’s handsome, well spoken, and demeanor always wins over the public. While winning the public attention he embraces every public appearance like a caring mother, filling a void from misfortunes from his teenage years. Still not appearing weak or insecure, he takes it all in stride and looks to have success already under his belt, being a few points up over other candidates. That is until photos from his college years surface on every media outlet, and puts a damper on the success he’s most likely to achieve. As any would be upset his spirits are lifted on high from the beautiful Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt.) Elise you can’t help but love. Her beauty ranges not only to the outside but the inside as well. Her presence is great, she’s confident, and care free. She’s a professional ballerina and is the best of the best. She floats across the screen with such grace just as well as the dance floor. The moment David and Elise eyes make contact, there’s a chemistry that can’t be broken. You can only hope for the best from the two of them. They appear to have that love connection we all long for in our later years. To put it simply they’re soul mates. It’s seems like the perfect match that even ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ bureau couldn’t destroy.
It’s a curious affair because at first glance the bureau’s abilities appear limitless. They’re well dressed, and contain mystical powers a normal being can’t imagine. It’s not clear if they’re angels or aliens but they have power on their hands. As threatening as they seem it still holds no candle on how well David and Elise get along. The only problem with these two characters is, according to ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ they’re not supposed to be together. It’s their so called ‘plan that’s laid out for them and it must be adjusted. While ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ monitors the world to keep it in balance they have a number of tools and rules to get this accomplished. Some tools are really fascinating that I wish I could possess. These tools are diagramed maps of every humans plan, and it’s elaborate as the most accurate radar device. They also have special clothing that grants them the powers to move around to certain territories statewide, nationally, and globally. There are a few others that I won’t mention due to spoiling.
It’s obvious that one member of the bureau may not be comfortable with the work he does daily of global maintenance. He’s fatigued and his supervisor can tell. One day on a job to adjust David he misses his opportunity and it sends tons of ripple effects that connect to the next years to come. One of these ripple effects causes David to run into Elise again when this acquaintance was only supposed to take place once. Initially it was necessary to motivate David while he was in the upcoming election but a further relationship with Else may damage both David and Elise’s future, according to the bureau. While this mistake takes place it’s revealed to David who ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ really is and why they exist. Now that David knows of their existence he’s beyond frustrated as anyone would be. While not wanting to ‘adjust’ to the knowledge that the world has no free will he’s threatened to keep the secret untold or his own world and personality will no longer exist. David then questions his and the bureau’s morality because while feeling completely confident that the bureau actions are unethical, it’s revealed to him from a supervisor of the bureau that they have perfect example for doing so. At one point I even flirted with the idea that it was necessary. ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ feels that with out there involvement the world would fall into chaos because humans are too immature to handle the choice of free will. What makes it even more mind blowing are the examples they list of world disasters that have been prevented due to their involvement, and the disasters that took place because they stepped back and let humanity live their own lives. David wants to take his chances and by chance meets up with Elise after the end of their relationship felt inevitable. So now the battle takes place over David’s true love for Elise, his mental state and memory, and ‘The adjustment Bureau’s’ rules and regulations that he must now abide by. It’s fun seeing who will win and the help David receives on the way is critical.
Adapted from a short story by Philip K. Dick it’s a refreshing concept that I’ve never encountered. It grabbed my intention of how all the inner workers of the bureau took place and even challenged my morality in a small way, making me ask myself what’s really best for humanity. The film is also perfectly cast with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt as the main characters. We don’t get to see but are told of a series of events from David’s (Damon’s) younger days and how it shaped him as the man he is today. His relationship with Elise (Blunt’s) is also refreshing while we witness a true love story. Love is a very powerful emotion and behavior and we see it here in it’s highest merits. Thrown together with a concept that everyone all ready feels that the government is evil, ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ adds even more blocks to this tower of conspiracy theory. The bureau itself is also perfectly cast with actors who are so believable if this concept were true, and the acting all around is great adding even more entertainment value. I do on the other hand have a complaint or two. The film takes place over a number of years and while I find no problem with this I did with the transition of time from one scene to the next. It made me clock out a second or two but the performances brought me right back in. Also while being a little frustrated on how operations worked in the bureau, some elements where briefly explained on how the bureau was able to accomplish such tasked. Unfortunately all elements where not addressed so I walked out of the theater still puzzled by issues that were never answered. There were no plots holes but a more thorough analysis would have been greatly appreciate by me or any other viewer. Though on a positive note there was a climatic sequence towards the end they did briefly explain some and you don’t know how it will end. Not matter what this approach is always entertaining.
With every “t” and “I” not being crossed and dotted this is still a film I feel you should witness. You’re stuck with the idea of what’s really best for humanity whether it be fate or free will. The performances enhance this experience as one individual really fights for what he believes in. The ending can be a little ambiguous but that is only determined by what events you want to take place. All in all it’s very entertaining and I still would enjoy a second viewing. While it’s ending did serve as a decent conclusion to the story a sequel is in no manner farfetched and at least should be considered. Having your every move recorded even to the amount of times you grind your teeth every day is quite scary to ponder. But the thought of it taking place by other individuals on the big screen is something to be remembered. It’s very enjoyable and I’m sure you’ll agree, but that’s just my opinion.