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Sunday, March 13, 2011

"The Adjustment Bureau"

"All I have are the choices I make, and I choose her, come what may."
Some movies like The Adjustment Bureau should really come with a warning label on the movie ticket that reads something like please check your logic at the door before entering. It really helps when trying to enjoy the movie. True, not every movie has to directly mimic the way real life is played out, but it should at least draw a thin parallel.

Matt Damon stars as Congressman David Norris, who's thisclose to being elected into Senate when he meets Elise (Emily Blunt), who sweeps him off his feet with just one chance encounter. He nearly derails his already ill-fated campaign as the memory of his approximate ten-minute steamy encounter with Elise clogs thoughts of anything else. He fears he'll never get the chance to see her again, when he later bumps into her on a bus. By that point, he's determined to be with her. That is, until a few mysterious well-suited men in hats, whose mission it is to keep all of our destinies according to their plan, plot to keep them apart. But they soon realize that David has his own plan--to be with Elise, no matter what--and they must take measures to prevent that, and any ripple effect that occurs on account of it, from happening. For instance, they have to make sure they keep their hats are on so they could properly maneuver through alternate galaxies that influence David's actions. And studying up on the act of fate-maneuvering in an actual classroom (with books) when they don't always have the answer. They even try to reason with David face to face about, well, what has become quite unreasonable to him (and, quite frankly, to the audience too).

The Adjustment Bureau is kind of like putting a face to the maniacal fate that was tripping up those characters in Final Destination. It's unoriginal, save the decent performances in the movie. Damon, as usual, is solid in the role, but even he seems like he's struggling to understand why he's even in this movie. It's way under his potential. Blunt is charming as his quirky girlfriend, but also plays under her talent (though she tries to make the most out of her very flimsily-written character). The men in suits are actually very interesting characters (especially Anthony Mackie and John Slattery's characters), but unfortunately the screenwriter didn't think so. Had they been more drawn out, we might have had something here. It might have worked better if they were the leads in the movie, and David and Elise were part of the supporting cast. It was a decent concept (at best) that was not supported with a good screenplay, and grew sillier by the minute. It just didn't work.

Rating: D+


Lesya said...

I will wait for the dvd release.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I was looking forward to this film as I like both Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. Other reviews have given more praise, but of course everyone is entitled to their opinion. I guess I'll watch it and form my own. But I'll make sure to adjust my mind on "unrealistic". lol
I really like your blog btw.

Jack L said...

Nice review!
I've been hearing mixed things about this one, I will probably see it someday but I'm not expecting much. Even the positive reviews have said it's nothing exceptional...

Kebaben said...

I have to disagree with most of what you said here.

You mention having to check your logic at the door. Why? The movie works within the confines it sets up for itself, and what isn't explained is deliberately left so. I'm curious what your gripes are in this regard.

While similar supernatural "fate vs free will" plots may have been done before (I haven't seen Final Destination that you mentioned), what I felt this one brought to the table was its strong focus on the romance between the two leads. For a movie in its genre, Damon and Blunt certainly have above-average chemistry with one another. Clever ideas and plot developments mean nothing unless you in some way can care for the characters, and this is where The Adjustment Bureau delivered for me. It wasn't just about men in hats and magic doors, but about the people they affected.

As said, "fate vs free will" has been done before, both in thrillers and sci-fi and romance and whatnot. This one still got me thinking every now and then. Knowing what Damon's character finds out in the film, what would I have done? Key information is deliberately left unrevealed to keep things open-ended and debatable. And then you have the whole religion-comparison that can be drawn with the bureau itself. In a time where Hollywood most of the time seems content to churn out movies that encourages us to shut off our brains completely, it's refreshing to see this one at least attempt to make something happen in the audience's noggins. For a popcorn flick, that is.

I'm also not seeing what you found fascinating about the men in suits. They're played by great actors and they function adequately in their service to the plot (Stamp is always fun to watch), but interesting? I've never seen Mackie blander than here.

Candice Frederick said...

@Kebaben For me, the men in hats were most interesting 1) because they were different, and 2) because i felt there was more to them than what was shown in this movie. I would have liked to see more of their story. Blunt and Damon's story was incredibly bland here to me and had no depth. I actually found them quite annoying. This is clearly not the best performance from anyone in this cast, but I didn't think the fellas from the adjustment bureau were bland at all. I think there was more to them than the movie allowed us to see. I had a big problem with that.

8thlight said...

Don't you always check logic at the door with a fantasy/sci-fi movie? lol

I loved it. It's definitely not Oscar material, but it's a great popcorn movie. It's another one of those movies with both something for men and women. You have Matt Damon vs. The Adjustment Bureau for the fellas and Damon & Blunt's relationship for the women.

I would love to see The Adjustment Bureau turned into a graphic novel focusing on the fedora wearers.

I loved Mackie in the movie. His voice-over at the end reminded me of Morgan Freeman, in a good way.

I'd definitely give it a C+ or B-.

Candice Frederick said...

@8thlight LOL, yes. But I had a problem with the fact that this sci-fi film was actually a love story, fighting to be a sci-fi but never actually becoming one.

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