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Friday, June 14, 2024

The Adjustment Bureau: A Review

Adjust Expectations

By Thomas N.

Let’s cut to the chase, The Adjustment Bureau is not great a great movie, however the filmgoer will most likely enjoy their time at the theater. Enjoyment of The Adjustment Bureau comes from the many questions it raises, and the audiences’ attempts to figure out what the answers will be. The desire to find the answers will keep audience interested until the end. Apparently, the theater I was in skipped the scene that explained everything. Either that, or the movie never resolved questions it raised; leaving the viewer disappointed during the credit roll. The experience is like eating a chocolate-covered-cherry, with just chocolate and no cherry.

The plot surrounds the Adjustment Bureau, a group that controls the fate of everyone in the world. The Bureau makes adjustments to peoples lives so that events happen the way the Bureau desires. This can be as simple as causing someone spill coffee on their shirt so they will be late to work, or something more complex, like determining who is elected president. The plot mentions several times that characters at The Bureau are not human, but it is never explained if they are angels, aliens, robots, gods, or monkeys in people suits for that matter. Therein lies The Adjustment Bureaus biggest problem; the film raises questions the audience wants answered, but these questions are never resolved.

Matt Damon plays Senate Candidate David Norris. He meets an attractive woman, Elise Sellas played by Emily Blunt, however she leaves before he is able to ask for her name or telephone number. Because of random luck, they meet again and this time he gets her phone number. It turns out The Bureau did not want Norris to meet Sellas a second time. They explain this to Norris and make clear to him if he reveals that The Bureau exists, they will kill him. Norris decides not to listen to The Bureau and pursues a relationship with Sellas. The Bureau spends the remainder of the movie trying to stop Norris from marrying Sellas.

Matt Damon’s acting in the role of Norris seemed to lack character depth compared to some of his other movies such as The Talented Mr. Ripley in which he was full of passion. This character had little emotion, with nothing in the movie that would help the audience to remember who he was or any strength he may have. He wasn’t overly intelligent or overly charming. He had a few funny lines thrown here and there but nothing exceptional. With Damon being a two-time academy award nominee his role portrayals are usually intense and believable, yet in this role he is neither believable nor interesting. Seeing an actor who is as skilled as Matt Damon in a character that was so lacking compared to his previous work begs to question was it more George Nolfi’s screenplay adaptation of the short story or because it was Nolfi’s first attempt at directing rather than Damon’s acting skills? Norris’ love interest played by Emily Blunt was a plot-device more than a fully developed character. And Blunt played this part with little depth and personality as well.
Early in the movie it is divulged that The Bureau is led by someone called The Chairman. The entire movie the audience will wonder who The Chairman is, but this is never answered It could be Elvis or Darth Vader. These questions are constantly popping up, Who and what are the Adjustment Bureau? How does The Bureau know what it does? Why do they care? Who is the Chairman?  The movie would be great if these questions were answered. Even if there was a twist at the end of the movie such as Sellas is The Chairman or it was all a dream; but no. The ending is so stupidly perfect and forced that everything leading up to it is ruined.

The worst part of The Adjustment Bureau is that it had potential. The plot had chances to take a dull premise and make it into something great, but it did not. The film also had the opportunity to be very intellectual and surprise audiences with an amazing third-act twist. Again, it did not.

A disappointing 5 out of 10

cast & credits

David Morris Matt Damon
Elise Sellas Emily Blunt
Harry Anthony Mackie
Richardson John Slattery
Charlie Michael Kelly
Thompson Terence Stamp

Universal Pictures presents a film directed and written by George Nolfi, based on the short story “Adjustment Team” by Philip K. Dick. Running time: 105 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image).


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