The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

For Matt Damon, 2011 appears to be the year of the paranormal. Having first fought to live a normal life in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, Damon is now fighting to live a normal life in The Adjustment Bureau, both movies throwing the heavens in his path. His bitten tongue apparently healed after True Grit, the Bourne actor is firmly back playing the everyman who resembles the no man. After falling in love at first sight with Emily Blunt – life sized this time – David Norris (Damon) finds his attempts at wooing the quirky Elise (Blunt) blocked by a Bureau determined to keep the two apart so that it might not interfere with The Chairman’s plan.

Advertised Bourne meets Inception, the poster blurbs appear to promise a gritty, action packed meditation on philosophy that, like, looks really cool and stuff. Prepare to be disappointed, then, as The Adjustment Bureau is nothing more than a half-baked science fiction premise that fails to fuel a feature film, better suited to the short story that it is loosely based on. According to the movie’s mythology, there is a team of behatted creatures whose job it is to keep the instance of chance to a minimum by discretely nudging their human charges back onto the paths laid out on them by God The Chairman. Gifted with magic hats, the angels Bureau are able to cross the city instantaneously using a series of enchanted doors, their powers hindered only by water. It really is as stupid as it sounds.

It really doesn’t help that Emily Blunt’s character remains completely unsuspecting throughout most of the movie as David Norris staves lobotomisation at the hands of The Bureau by keeping his knowledge of them to himself. Spaced across four years, the movie requires us to believe that their mere hours of interaction are enough to keep themselves invested in a relationship that by all means shouldn’t exist.  They are likeable enough, Blunt in particular, but their romance has a contrived feel that no amount of cutesy flirting can compensate for. Had this been a generic rom-com, it would have enjoyed more chemistry than the entirety of Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey’s back catalogue’s combined; as an existential rom-sci-fi, however, it fails to bring the humanity to a film universe with precious few human characters.

The Bureau is a fun creation, their naivity even humorous in small doses. Embued, as they are, with such omnipotence, however, it is difficult to see how there is enough conflict to carry an entire narrative. Contradiction after contradiction deprive the film of any real physicality, as Norris’ presumed importance to the plan is consistently undermined by talk of alternative futures and Bureaucratic leniency. When Norris has been let go with a warning for the umpteenth time, any real threat is frittered away, leaving the last minute chase scene to flounder, particularly when compared to the undeniably similar scene from Monsters Inc.

The Adjustment Bureau is not Bourne meets Inception. Instead, it is a tedious actioner which is too ridiculous have any real dramatic effect. A solid array of likeable turns from its principle cast are sadly not enough to save this uneven blend of genres from a cripplingly embarassing laughability. And you thought Hereafter was bad.


About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

  1. Pingback: March 2011 – You made me…a period mix? « popcornaddict

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