Monday, March 14, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau is what Inception would be in less capable hands than Christopher Nolan, or what The Truman Show could’ve turned into if not directed by a visionary like Peter Weir.

It’s an interesting concept: that there are a group of people designed specifically to carry out the master plan set by God (or whoever), human emotion or desire be damned. Ever wonder why you can’t find your car keys that one morning? Or why you missed that bus by seconds?  Some of it is chance, sure, but most of the time, the film tells us, it’s the work of the Adjustment Bureau.

If this all sounds corny and tired, well, that’s because it is.

With this unique sci-fi scenario, the plot could be structured around basically anything, which is why it’s kind of a letdown that we’re stuck with the aimless familiarity of lovers in distress.

David Norris, a young politician vying to be New York’s next Governor (Matt Damon), meets Elise (Emily Blunt) by chance, but after their flirty, fleeting moment together, they are split apart indefinitely.  Years later, David runs into Elisa (again, by chance) and their romance takes off.  Enter the Adjustment Bureau, a slew of suited dudes in Mad Men fedoras who inform David that if he continues to see Elisa, their relationship will eventually ruin both of their lives.

This being a love story, David fights to stay with Elise.  He screams, he runs, he convinces; all in the name of love.

The Adjustment Bureau is based on a story by Philip K. Dick, the same mind that spawned stories that later became Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report.  Once you step into Dick’s world, you have to accept it, or you’ll never enjoy yourself.  So to say I dug the concept behind The Adjustment Bureau really isn’t saying enough, because as it turns out, this is a unique gimmick stuck in a nearly lifeless film. 

Despite the chemistry of the two leads, the dialogue is stuffy and forced.  More than once I laughed out loud at what I thought was latent sarcasm, but was actually the remnants of a lacking screenplay.

We are, however, privy to a few cool effects: a character opens a door in an alley and steps onto Yankee field, walk through the back door of a restaurant and you’re magically standing next to the Statue of Liberty, and so on.

But two talented leads and a few groovy special effects aren’t enough to make you care. In the end, we’re left with a series of unremarkable, wasted scenes that add up to a movie you may enjoy in the moment, but forget as soon as you leave. D+


  1. Nancy and I liked it!!!

  2. This is a good concept in mediocre film. I LIKED THIS FILM, but just because of the masterful concept. What about the other Philip K. Dick adaptations?

    1. I agree, good concept, meh film.

      Dick adaptations that I've seen:

      Paycheck: D
      The Adjustment Bureau: D
      Minority Report: A
      Total Recall: B
      Blade Runner: A
      Abre los ojos: A-
      A Scanner Darkly: A-

  3. They should have just called this one Hat Men and been done with it.