- Vancouver, British Columbia - Choice and destiny would seem to be at odds with each other. There is a portion of society, which would suggest that we all have a destiny and we can do little to alter the course in realizing that destiny. In The Adjustment Bureau, we see a contrary perspective in David Norris (Matt Damon), who must face a decision whether he will let himself be guided by his choices or directed by destiny.
The Adjustment Bureau is a fun, engaging and thoughtful science fiction thriller from director George Nolfi in his feature film debut. David Norris is running for the US Senate seat for the state of New York and it would seem that it is his destiny to win the election, judging by all of the obstacles that he has overcome in his life, which may have steered other weaker souls from following such a path. However, David is focused and determined. The wheels begin to fall off the wagon unfortunately in David's campaign, yet around the same time, he meets the beautiful, yet sassy Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), a dancer wandering through life, seemingly by chance. The two fall in love with each other and it would seem that destiny would feel that the two are meant for each other, but then the Adjustment Bureau gets involved, when it is apparent that the two are in fact not meant for each other and the "Chairman" has other plans for David Norris and Elise Sellas.
What works about this film primarily is the chemistry between Damon and Blunt in their roles. This has been well-stated in other reviews of this film, thus I do not feel the need to expound upon this much further, except to say that the rumours are true and what makes them believable as a couple is that their interactions feel natural and unforced. Beyond this, the mythology of the story behind the Adjustment Bureau and the Chairman is both fascinating and entertaining. There seemed to very few holes in the logic, though I don't pretend it was perfect. The fact that there were no blatantly obvious gaps in logic helped, since this was after all a science fiction thriller.
What I suspect will be a criticism by many is that the film itself lacks the type of action one might expect from the trailer and promotional material that preceded the film. The truth is that the film operates more as a science fiction romance thriller rather than a science fiction action thriller. There is a lovely story in the relationship between David and Elise, which is compounded into something far more compelling when we learn about the choices that the two must face in relation to their futures. No longer did their become a story of a simple love and attraction, but whether the two wanted the best for each other, or if the other was what was best for their lives. In many ways, this is the ultimate question of love and anyone with an ounce of maturity can acknowledge this.
Director George Nolfi is no stranger to Hollywood. You might recognize several of his previous writing projects, such as Timeline, Ocean's Twelve, The Sentinel, The Bourne Ultimatum, and now The Adjustment Bureau. In his feature film debut in the role of the director, Nolfi also produced and wrote the script to this sci-fi thriller. He has demonstrated himself as a more than capable writer and I look forward to seeing what other projects he may tackle in the future and where he will take his audience next. Terence Stamp also gave an inspired performance as one of the senior members of the Adjustment Bureau. It was not entirely different from his other most recent roles, but he managed to bring more likeability and respectability to this character in the film.
The Adjustment Bureau, while not a completely original concept (it was adapted from Philip K. Dick's short story, "Adjustment Team"), is the type of film which reminded me of how fun it can be to go to the movies. As a film, it did not make me work too hard mentally, but neither was I able to shut my brain off. I still had to think and track with the film. It was exciting, engaging, and made me smile. The Adjustment Bureau, while not likely to garner any award consideration, is one of my favourites of the year so far. Not in the sense that it was the best-executed or most well crafted film of the year, rather it was one of the most enjoyable films that I have seen this year.
Rating: 3.5/5 Sour Grapes