Directed by George Nolfi, Written by George Nolfi and Philip K. Dick (short story “Adjustment Team”), 105 minutes, Rated PG-13.
By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz
The Orwellian puppet-master is nothing new to science fiction, and in the recent Philip K. Dick adaptation, "The Adjustment Bureau," Director George Nolfi doesn't have much to add. The film, which centers on a man escaping an omnipotent agency that controls humanity's every move, seems suited "The Twilight Zone," but Nolfi’s heavy-handed tone, lack of mystery and allegorical interests hurt "The Adjustment Bureau"'s more thrilling moments.
David Norris (Matt Damon) is on his way to becoming the youngest senator in New York history when a chance meeting in a men’s bathroom puts him off course. It’s here that David meets Elise (Emily Blunt), a freewheeling dancer who’s ontrack to become one of the world’s most talented and famous choreographers. The two have an instant connection, but it wasn't meant to be, and a series of unfortunate coincidences separate the couple for three years.
But, as David soon learns, coincidence has nothing to do with it. A team of supernatural accountants called the Adjustment Bureau, who monitor and manipulate the life course of every person on the planet to keep them on a pre-ascribed track, are keeping these two apart, because their relationship is not part of the plan.
The Adjustment Bureau is far too conspicuous to pass as a secret organization, shattering their desired and much needed allure. Nolfi reveals so much about the team that whatever threat they pose or influence they have appears ridiculous. These aren't the Agents from "The Matrix," but rather just a couple of accountants who can't do their jobs.
Thankfully, Damon and Blunt save the picture. Blunt’s irresistible flirtation and Damon’s infatuation complement their attraction remarkably, making their relationship a treat. Despite the lack of a worthy opponent, these two are so likable that it's hard not to root for them. You'll want to see them succeed, even though their trials grow tired.
The film lacks the subtlety needed to make such a ridiculous premise work, and likewise, the religious allegory at the film's center comes off as too obvious and ham-fisted to be taken seriously. Nolfi never characterizes the Bureau as particularly secretive, making their operation appear sloppy when they should be menacing. Damon and Blunt are great--it's just a shame they don't have a stronger adversary for their love.