Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau [ Movie Review ] ★★★

The Pitch

Free Will versus Fate. Can true love fend off a group of individuals with seemly omnipresence power? That seems to be what The Adjustment Bureau trailer had presented.

The love affair between a politician and a ballerina that is affected by strange and powerful mysterious forces. A philosophy musing exercise with sci-fi entertainment and a douse of romance.

Personally, The Adjustment Bureau has a dash of Minority Report, Dark City and even the Martix feel to it. There are mentions of "Bourne meets Inception" but personally, I dont see much linkage except to cash in on what popular (and profitable).

Based on Philip K. Dick's short story, Adjustment Team, this might just be an intelligent and entertaining film that find it's place with Blade Runner and Minority Report.

The Plot

David Norris (Matt Damon) was preparing for a losing speech as his run for the United State Senate was coming to an end. A beautiful mysterious lady (Emily Blunt) suddenly appeared and they shared an engaging conversation. Sparks flew and they engaged in a sudden kiss. They were rudely interrupted when David's aide came to inform him that it's time for the speech. Before he could get her name, the security guards came and chase her away. David Norris went on to give a honest speech about his political career and was widely praise for it.

The next day, a mysterious man sat a park bench waiting for David Norris. He was given instruction to spill coffee on David Norris at a certain timing. The mysterious man fell asleep and missed the timing. By that time, David Norris was already on a bus and he met the mysterious lady from last night. They clicked once again and this time, the lady introduced herself as Elise and gave him her numbers so that they can stay in contact.

David reached the office and was surprised to see his boss and colleague motionless. They were examined by men in strange attire. He tried to make a run for it but no matter where he went, they were just a step behind. David was captured and took to a warehouse. The mysterious hatted men then revealed to him that they have special power and the ability to read minds. They are sent by "the Chairman" to make adjustment to people's thoughts so that things can go according to plan. David was warned that if he ever revealed this matter to others, they would reset his mind and he will end up lobotomized. Before leaving him, the hatted men told him that he was not meant to ever meet up with Elise and needs to forget about her.

After destroying her numbers, they put him back into the office and David noticed the slight change in his boss's stand on a solar panel project. But at that point he was most affected about his new found romance coming to an sudden and unnatural end.

Three years later, David managed to see Elise on the streets. They reconnected and that drove the Bureau to work overtime in keeping them apart. They threw everything at them, changing their schedules and even using doors as a teleporting machine to deter them from building a relationship. Ultimately they failed and realized that they were actually meant to be together until a recent change in plan.

The Bureau had no choice but to send their top agent to break up this couple. Would their relationship be able to withstand such a supernatural pounding? Or would they choose the easier route that fate had intended?

The Perspective

First of all, there are plenty of loopholes in this movie. Personally, it's hard to believe that it was so difficult for these two to meet again. She is aware of his identity as a Senator candidate and if she was really as affected by the first meeting as she said she was, it shouldn't be that hard for her to locate him. It's also pretty convenience that the adjustment bureau was aware of the first re-meet up but totally missed the second one, specially for key individual who is traveling on the same bus route for 3 straight years. This guy is destined to be a very special man in their fate book and no one at the Bureau bothered or was even assigned to check on him for years?

Thinking more about it, The Adjustment Bureau, filled with supernatural powered individuals doing God Chairman's work, have absolutely no deterrence for unauthorized intruders at all.

But the movie kept moving in a breezy pace, throwing new elements to keep the viewers intrigue and minds off those loopholes. What are the mysterious group of hatted men up to? Who's their boss? What are they capable of? How is Matt Damon David Norris, going to outwit them? Could true love happen in first sight and span over years? Will love hinder one's goal in life? All these questions keep coming in to intrigue the viewers while the two love birds made a run for it.

The romance between David Norris and Elise Sallas worked due to Matt Damon and Emily Blunt on screen chemistry. This whole movie hinges on the acceptance of their romance. Without it, there's basically no story. The best part would be that the movie does not overly sells the romance and keep the two apart for most part of the movie. It really boils down to how they portrayal their longing and perseverance for their true love. Emily Blunt is spectacular in that aspect of showing the emotion restraint and endurance while working with a shorter screen time as compared to Matt Damon.

Last but not least,  John Toll painted the picturesque New York city with his camera that beautiful to look at. It brings along an aesthetic beauty to complement the actors performance and the storyline progression.

But then we have to reach the end and personally, that was the crux of a story. There are some average movies that became great due to how it chose to end and there are movies with potential premise that falter with it's ending. The ending got to be the worst part of the film. The Adjustment Bureau ended in a way that it sort of wipe away what had been established throughout the movie. It took away the importance of why they are running and the difficulty that our star crossed lovers faced to be together.

The ending will probably appeal to the masses with it's convenient ending but personally, it's just disappointing to see how it lacks the ball to close the story with what it had been building. It was just too anti-climatic and too easy for the two main characters. It doesn't have to be bleak but going against destiny needed more than was done in the movie to justified their final fate.

Perhaps there might be an alternate ending in the future Dvd extras but one can only hope. Currently, the more I think about The Adjustment Bureau, the more I find things that I don't like about the show. It's adjusting my initial liking for the show. I thought it could be one of the first great movie of 2011 but the ending was such a game changer. Nuff Said.
Beyond the Movie

The Adjustment Bureau is based on Philip K. Dick's short story, Adjustment Team. According to Wiki, the protagonist in the short story is a estate salesman and there's no love interest involved. Just a man who discovered the Adjustment Team and been warned about revealing their secret.

More info here


  1. I completely agree.... The movie was building so nicely! and then it was like they went blank on how to finish it. It was matrix/inception-type creative and then right when you were expecting a pay-off, it went all "Disney!"... Not surprisingly, my girlfriend loved it. I, on the other hand, felt let down as a film major.

  2. It's really nice to hear that someone share the same sentiment for a movie! Cheerio

  3. I thought I saw a preview with them diving off a roof top???

    I found the movie keeping me interested but think they way they ended could have been more thought provoking.