The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
May 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
Directed by George Knolfi
Adapted by George Knolfi based on a short story by Phillip K. Dick
Starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt
Apparently it is possible to write an intelligent, mature, hopeful, political romantic thriller with a dose of theological notions. Such is the Adjustment Bureau, a sci-fi romance based in our world with a few magical twists thrown in. It’s a fun, romantic adventure written for adults. It’s a film about destiny versus free will, a theme we see explored time and time again in cinema, but often times with a heavy hand, pretentious speeches and way too much self-seriousness. The Adjustment Bureau skirts this territory, staying just on the outside to keep the events fun and fast.
Matt Damon is David Norris, a handsome, confident state senatorial nominee for New York, on his way to political super stardom. Emily Blunt is Elise Sellas, a budding dancer. They bump into each other in a bathroom at a fundraiser for David’s campaign and hit it off, but duty calls and David must return to his duties, without having the chance to take things further, though he is smitten. A little while later, a fateful bus ride changes all of this when he once again bumps into Elise and their flirtations grow into something neither can deny, resulting in dire consequences at the hands of the mysterious Adjustment Bureau, men in gray suits and fedoras, intent on controlling David and Elise’s lives for the greater good, as they see things.
Damon and Blunt have fantastic chemistry, thanks in large part to a witty script that provides them with whip-smart, naturalistic dialogue. Damon is livelier than he’s been in a long time, now that he’s been freed from the cheesy ham-fisted nature of his political thrillers or the solemn quiet of Jason Bourne. He actually gets to talk through his acting in this film, as opposed to the mostly physical performances of his more recent efforts and does a damn fine job of it, being very charming and naturalistic. Emily Blunt matches him with charm and sophistication. I’m not one for the overly romantic notions in this film, but I found myself rooting for this fictional couple. The trailer doesn’t do the film justice, as it makes the stakes seem much more serious than the film plays them out to be. In reality the film has a lighter, more fun tone that keeps the audience engaged, with a sweet, hopeful ending that is most definitely saccharine, but in my opinion, quite pleasing after the journey we’re taken on.
The film has elements of espionage, fantasy, romance and existentialism, weaving these together seamlessly without feeling over-wrought or forced. It’s exciting without being confusing, thrilling without being cheap and above all has fantastic acting from Damon, Blunt and Anthony Mackie as a put-upon Adjustment Agent who doesn’t see the world in black and white as his colleagues do.
This is a great, unique thriller, the kind we as an audience complain about not getting enough of from Hollywood. I highly recommend this clever, crowd pleasing adventure.