Matt Damon has always been my favorite actor, and he retained the title with The Adjustment Bureau.
While not probing too deeply on the question of “Do we have free will?” like the preview may have implied, the film creates a steady balance between romance, mystery and science fiction while still covering the topic of free will and if God is controlling our lives or not.
Based on a short story called The Adjustment Team by Philip K. Dick and written and directed by George Nolfi (Bourne Ultimatum, Ocean’s Twelve, Hawaii Five-O)
Starring Damon, Emily Blunt (Damon’s love interest), Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, and the ever-chilling Terence Stamp, the movie delivers with great chemistry between Damon and Blunt, as well as good performances from Slattery and Stamp. Mackie was the only acting flaw in the whole movie, as he was lackluster, showing limited emotion and not really doing much with his character except being the only African-American in the film.Read more in Cinemarolling
Damon stars as David Norris, a congressman running for the senate seat of New York when pictures of himself performing hooligan-like acts of mooning his friends come out in the news, and he loses the election. He meets Elise Sallas (Blunt), a dancer (but not in the way you think, she does ballet) oddly in the men’s restroom while reciting a speech he is preparing to give in spite of his defeat. Spark fly, they kiss, yada yada yada, he gets back on track politically. However, she leaves before he can get any information about her.
He sees her again after a decent amount of time and chats with her on the bus, rekindling the romance and getting her number.
He wasn’t supposed to do that.
The “Adjustment Bureau” is a group of agents that make sure everything goes according to the “plan”. They make sure that everyones’ lives are playing out the way that they were meant to.
Turns out, the guy who was supposed to be directing his life was Agent Harry Mitchell (Mackie), and he messed up. So, agent Richardson (Slattery) catch up with him and tell him what’s going on, and all about the Bureau and how they follow the “Chairman’s” plan (God, obviously) and tell him to never see her again and not to tell anyone what he’s done.
Matt Damon doesn’t like following orders. He’s also Jason Bourne, and he doesn’t put up with people telling him what to do.
Norris ends up fighting in pursuit of Elise, his true love. He faces Richardson, who is played well by Slattery, and Agent Thomson, who is played by the always good, and always spine-tingling Stamp. At least half of his face is not cut off like in The Box (now that was a terrible movie). The bulk of the movie is filled with Norris fighting to stay with Elise despite threats from the Bureau on both of their careers.
Eventually, with the help of the light-hearted Harry, Norris takes on the Bureau directly in the last twenty minutes of the movie that had me on the edge of my seat with my stomach turning upside down due to nerves. I became attached to the romance of Norris and Elise, as the on-screen chemistry of Damon and Blunt was phenomenal.
Shot in New York City, the camera-work is a great asset to the film. The team used smooth, dolly cameras to film the story in the beginning, as everything was in order and according to “plan”. But as Norris fought the plan and created more “ripples” (adjustments that needed to be made to the “plan”) the cameras switched to bouncy, energetic hand-held cameras to complement the chaos that the film was delving into. The green screen usage is great as well, for when the agents can open random doors in New York and end up in a separate place, adding to their power and control.
Overall, the movie is great, smart, romantic and realistic. The only shortcomings I sensed were the acting of Mackie, and the lack of depth that the story had in the issue of free will, which is what the story was based on.
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