Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Written by OBS Staff Member Rose

Imagine if your life was predestined and no matter the supposed choices you make, your path in life is ultimately set in stone. This is the premise of The Adjustment Bureau (directed by George Nolfi), which was hailed more thought provoking than the film Inception. I beg to differ.

David Norris (Matt Damon), a politician who is losing the election in the Senate race, meets a young woman Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), in the bathroom at the hotel where he is set to make his concession speech. He loses touch with Elise,but after their bathroom banter she changes his life in more ways than he can possibly imagine.

After a chance meeting with Elise some months later Norris happens to step behind the curtain that hides the Wizard of Oz. He becomes privy to the fact that mysterious 1950’s dressed men are in charge of his destiny. He is not supposed to be with Elise and the mysterious men do everything in their power to make sure it stays this way.

Blending a storyline similar to the Matrix (without the cruelty) and mixed with the premise of Serendipity, The Adjustment Bureau is an elevated tale of romance and destiny that dabbles in forces of a higher spiritual power and light science fiction.

In the beginning of the film, it was a who’s who of high profile politicians and news anchors playing themselves, in snippets of Norris on his campaign trail. When Norris meets Elise shortly after, the chemistry between Damon and Blunt is palpable. It’s the best onscreen romantic electricity since Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs Smith.

This chemistry between them helped carry the film, but its downfall was it’s recycled plot and predictability. The film plays heavily upon the question of “Is there such a thing as free will?” and other questions we all think about daily in our lives such as “Do our choices in life really matter?”  “Is there a higher power?” And “Can I make my own destiny?” This cannot be considered extremely though provoking. The twist is the mysterious men and their ‘animated fate books’ and the need to ‘re-adjust you’ if you fall off your path.

Damon is a fantastic actor and plays Norris with ease and Blunt gets better with each film she stars in. Terance Stamp does his best Zod impression as the heavyweight spiritual adjuster Thompson and Anthony Mackie who plays Harry the adjuster who is in charge of Norris’ path, is a bit too serious in his role, but all the adjusters have a lack of real emotion.

As far as the action involved, there are no explosions, gunfire, or dead bodies, only a few chase scenes that involve no violence whatsoever. This allows The Adjustment Bureau it’s PG-13 rating.  One particular chase involves Norris wearing Harry’s hat, a necessary object for stepping through random doors in order to travel from one spot to another. One minute he’s running through the streets of New York City, the next he’s standing in Yankee Stadium. This door traveling concept can be seen as a metaphor for the age old saying for choices in life “The door is open for you, you just have to step through it”.

On the whole, the film leaves you with a smile on your face due to its Hollywood ending but on the flipside due to it’s reconstituted theme it leaves you wanting more.

Rating: 7/10 stars

Running Time: 105 minutes

Rated: PG-13