In 1999 we saw Thomas Anderson being told to free his mind from the Matrix; now, in 2011, Matt Damon tries to break free of “The Adjustment Bureau” – for love. Sounds silly and corny, but that’s the best part of this lumbering conspiracy thriller.
Matt Damon plays David Norris, a New York Congressman struggling to win a Senate seat. He bumps into the enchanting Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), and this chance encounter reveals the existence of the Adjustment Bureau. The Bureau is made up of gents who nudge humanity toward certain objectives – and Norris’ feelings for Elise are not in the playbook.
The Adjustment Bureau runs just under an hour and forty-five minutes, but it gets arduous as the film shifts away from Norris’ attempts to meet Elise and becomes bogged down in explaining the Adjustment Bureau and their plotting. MINOR SPOILER Even more tiresome is when Norris leaves Elise twice (once spanning 3 years, another 11 months) at the advisement of the Bureau. MINOR SPOILER OVER One is left to assume that the writer (and director) George Nolfi couldn’t think of anything else to do with the story other than to rinse and repeat.
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Further, the film should prompt many theological discussions, as it implies God (aka, “The Chairman”) has taken control of any important decisions humanity would ever make.* It’s only after Norris goes to extreme lengths to stay with Elise are the couple allowed by God to stay together. What type of petty puppet master are they portraying? In the film God lives up to the film’s title – he sounds like a disconnected bureaucrat.
MAJOR SPOILERS OVER
Long-winded though it may be, Damon and Blunt have great chemistry, which makes what would otherwise be an insufferably overstuffed burrito of conspiracy into a decent drama/romance flick. Damon’s affable demeanor is so convincing, it feels as if we just stumbled upon him chatting with the equally playful Emily Blunt. They have chemistry that undermines the camera’s presence.
If you’re looking for an intriguing thriller, The Adjustment Bureau regularly hits dull keys, but if you want to see Matt Damon and Emily Blunt fall for each other and be disarmingly genuine, check it out.
Bureau agent Thompson explains to Norris that they guided humanity till the Roman Empire, when humanity was handed complete free will – which brought about the Dark Ages.
I couldn’t help but exhibit minor annoyance at the film’s Eurocentric viewpoint on history. Was Mr. Thompson not looking in on the Middle East as they experienced artistic and scientific revolutions following Rome’s fall and feeding into the Italian Renaissance? Evidently the world hinges upon Europe’s rise and fall.