REEL Review – The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Director: George Nolfi | Runtime: 1h 46mins | Romance, Thriller, Sci-Fi

After an unsuccessful run at Senator, Congressman David Norris (Matt Damon) meets Elise (Emily Blunt), a professional dancer, in a chance encounter. When the two immediately hit it off, Norris becomes aware of mysterious forces trying to keep them apart.

Based on the short story by Philip K. Dick, ‘Adjustment Team’, this falls under the category of conceptual uniqueness. While the idea of ‘greater forces’ may seem less unique, it’s the approach of the suited and booted henchman that feels fresher, it turns the mundanity of real life into a routined metaphysical ‘plan’ that needs to be fulfilled no matter the consequences. If you slap this premise with the idea of star-crossed lover and a hefty cast, including Matt Damon to really lead the pack, this is becomes an incredibly approachable project for a studio to get behind.

This film really is running on two things however, it’s romantic edge and the ‘outside forces’ who oppose it. When the film isn’t using the charisma of it’s two leads to sell a scene it’s usually trying to convince you about it’s premise, and throughout the film it’s clear to see that the two, while sometimes complimenting each other, often counteract each other as well. The film is very quick to let us know who the antagonists are, as not even 20 minutes in we find Jon Slattery explaining the very nature of their existence to a confused Damon tied to a chair, it’s this kind of exposition that gives this film less of a paranoia-edge, one like the very best conspiracy movies of the 70s did, and instead a much more straightforward cat and mouse approach.

This isn’t all bad though, despite the film really struggling to find a balance between it’s romantic levity and the Sci-Fi/Fantasy connection, the pacing is still executed to the best of it’s abilities. Spending a lot of it’s runtime in a state of romantic euphoria between Damon and Blunt, until it wants to pump the adrenaline a little with a nifty blend of foot-racing and door-to-door action. The two atmosphere’s it’s trying to create are successfully met, but as already mentioned, it’s their inability to gel as one that maybe slows the film down. But it still has to be mentioned how important the cast are here too, Damon has consistently made a name for himself as a good leading man, still harbouring the charisma of a seasoned veteran but at the same time staying true to a rooted style (one that made him so wonderful in Good Will Hunting [1997]), and also Emily Blunt, who despite being a star today wasn’t at the peak of her career just yet. But there’s no wonder as to why she became a star, she lights up the screen with most performances, and this one is no different. If you add to the mix great character actors like Jon Slattery and Terrence Stamp, you’ve got a reliable source of great performances.

The Adjustment Bureau may not excel in the kind of ingenuity it’s concept may suggest, but there’s a bold attempt to be different that a lot of films would shy away from. Such palpable chemistry between it’s two leading stars bring legitimacy to the romance, and there’s enough creativity to make the fantasy work, and while these two things don’t always gel together, as two separates they still make for a bold, romantic and sometimes mind-bending experience.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

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