The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, is a movie that tackles mainly the theme of free will and fate. Do we have them both or are we simply adjusted to believe we do?
Matt Damon stars as David Norris, a young politician with dreams of becoming a senator, the youngest senator, in fact, that New York has known. On the night of the elections, he meets Elise (Emily Blunt) and sparks fly. Time goes on (and you are going to have many time jumps in this) and David encounters Elise serendipitously while going on the bus to work. However, it is revealed that he shouldn’t have gotten on the bus. He shouldn’t have met Elise again. He should have spilled coffee on his shirt while going through the park on his way to take the bus and gone back up to his apartment to change it. And so, it is revealed to David Norris the existence of an adjustment bureau that makes sure things go according to the plan set forth by the “Chairman” and according to his plan, David should not be with Elise.
Damon and Blunt have remarkable onscreen chemistry. I was surprised to see their characters blend so well together and on top of the “philosophical” aspect of this sci-fi movie, present us with a credible portrayal of a romantic relationship that transcends the obstacles thrown at it.
I appreciated The Adjustment Bureau. But I thought it lacked in punch. The issue discussed by the movie, free-will, is at the heart of many studies that are taking place today. Therefore, the premise upon which this movie is built is highly interesting, however I thought the execution rendered it meaningless and corny. The movie jumps around a lot, especially in time. You’d expect a movie to have one time jump. This movie has a bunch of them: 3 months here, 3 years there… so in this one hour and a half movie, you are taken almost through 4 years of events, all centered around the attempt to build this relationship between David and Elise, ultimately becoming a little tired of them trying to make it work.
What hurts the movie as well is a definite lack of mystery. Almost everything is revealed in the first twenty minutes and the rest of the time the characters are simply reacting to those twenty minutes. It is revealed that David’s family all died and in many instances of the movie, it is inferred that the bureau might have had a hand in their deaths. Why wasn’t the issue pressed further? There are a lot of points in The Adjustment Bureau that feel underdeveloped. Even the bureau itself loses this element of mystery because you know almost everything about it early on.
The Orwellian issue has been often discussed in cinema. And while I think it is a highly interesting topic that needs to be discussed even more and in other fields, I feel that The Adjustment Bureau doesn’t add anything new to the discussion, making it an enjoyable movie that comes off at times as kind of preachy. It does have interesting visual effects though. I mean, a door opening in your bathroom that takes you to central park is neat, no?