- Running time:
- 105 minutes
- Matt Damon -
- David Norris
- Emily Blunt -
- Elise Sellas
- Anthony Mackie -
- Harry Mitchell
- John Slattery -
- Michael Kelly -
- Charlie Traynor
David Norris (Matt Damon) is already the youngest man ever elected to the U.S. Congress, but his promising bid for the Senate is about to go up in flames. That professional setback leads to a chance encounter with beautiful dancer Elise (Emily Blunt), who instantly captures David’s heart. Too bad fate has already decided their relationship can’t happen, as David is about to discover when he stumbles upon a secret Adjustment Bureau—a destiny command center run by men in hats who lurk in the shadows of our lives.
The buzz: The directorial debut of George Nolfi—a screenwriter on “Ocean’s Twelve” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”—based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team.” Hollywood’s mixed track record in adapting Dick’s work ranges from major sci-fi successes (“Blade Runner,” “Minority Report,” “Total Recall”) to epic flops (“Paycheck,” “Next,” “Impostor”), with very little middle ground.
The verdict: While the marketing promises a Jason-Bourne-goes-sci-fi thrill ride, the reality of “The Adjustment Bureau” is something quite different. It’s a soul-searching light romance, closer to philosophical entertainment like “The Truman Show”—if “The Truman Show” had been made by lunkheads. Yes, “Adjustment” ambitiously explores Big Questions, but does so with some of the most muddled ideology imaginable—it’s a film about fate versus free will that illuminates little more than screenwriting contrivances. Based on the evidence on screen, the adjusters are so bad at their jobs it’s hard to believe they could properly direct traffic, let alone the whole of human destiny. That hardly makes them much threat to the central romance. We know Damon and Blunt are a perfect fit mostly because they finish each other’s cutesy banter, but at least Nolfi makes an effort with their dialogue. The same can’t be said of the one dimensional portrait of Elise, who emerges as nothing but a beautiful smart-mouthed trophy our hero wants to make his own. Between this and “The Wolfman,” Blunt really needs to stay away from the sexy cipher roles before we forget how talented she actually is. Anthony Mackie and John Slattery, both good actors, are wasted as bland Bureau men, while Terence Stamp steals the show by sneaking in the film’s only trace of unpredictability.
Did you know? The scenes featuring David Norris as a guest on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” were filmed during Damon’s publicity tour for “The Informant!”
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