THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU: 3 ½ STARS
“The Adjustment Bureau,” a new film starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt as star crossed lovers, is a hard film to categorize. It’s a sci fi movie, with some action, romance and even a bit of metaphysical drama about two people who run afoul of The Adjustment Bureau, a shadowy group of men whose job it is to tweak or adjust people’s lives to make sure the overall plan for their life stays on track.
“The Adjustment Bureau’s” story exists at the intersection of chance and fate, exploring the nature of destiny and the role that free will plays in people’s lives. Key concepts imported the from Phillip K. Dick short story that forms the backbone of the movie include questions about humanity’s ability to truly do the right thing for themselves and the planet and whether or not we have free will or simply the appearance of free will.
Heady stuff. But like the best sci fi it’s not simply about the ideas, it puts a human face on its theories. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are David and Elsie. He’s a charismatic but impulsive politician whose frat boy behaviour just cost him an election. She’s an up-and-coming ballerina with a wild side. It’s love at first sight for both of them, but somehow, for years, they are kept apart. When they have a second chance meeting David is determined not to let her go, but the mysterious men from the Adjustment Bureau are just as determined to keep them apart. Will David be able to accept his predestined path and let her go, or will he try and create his own free will?
Much of the success of “The Adjustment Bureau” is due to its cast. Damon and Blunt have great chemistry and are completely believable as a couple. The sparks that fly off the pair as they meet for the second time on a New York City bus light up the screen and provide a very human edge to a weird but quite wonderful story. Without that the idea of a group of fedora-wearing men who control every aspect of humanity’s interactions would feel overreaching, but put a human face—well, two faces as appealing as Damon and Blunt’s—on it and you get a story that transcends genre.
Add to that some situational humor, some interesting supporting actors like John “Mad Men” Slattery, Anthony Mackie and Zod… er, I mean Terence Stamp in full-on metaphysical mode and you have a strange, but strangely appealing look at humanity
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