Posted December 7, 2010 by Marcia Degia - Publisher in Films

Adjustment Bureau, The

The stories of Philip K Dick have been adapted by Hollywood to
produce acclaimed masterpieces (Bladerunner), flash-in-the-pan thrillers
(Paycheck) and trippy head-scratchers (A Scanner Darkly). Now, The
Adjustment Bureau attempts to translate Dick’s sci-fi meditations on
fate and existence into yet another cinematic effort starring Matt Damon
and Emily Blunt, but is it another triumph or another disappointment?


The answer is, inevitably, a little bit of both, and, with Philip K
Dick’s work already established as a rich source for great storytelling,
it should come as no surprise that the film is let down by the rather
mediocre execution, as opposed to the engrossing concept and gripping


Damon star as David Norris, a politician who just misses out
on winning a seat in the US Senate and who, shortly afterwards, has a
chance encounter with Elise Sellas (Blunt), a care-free,
captivating ballet dancer. At the same time, mysterious men in hats and
long coats appear to be following David and are seemingly conspiring to
keep him apart from his newfound love interest.


Following another accidental meeting between the couple, however,
these secretive figures are forced to intervene and explain to David
that they are the Adjustment Bureau, a workforce dedicated to making
sure that every person is set on the right path to their destiny and do
not stray from ‘the plan’. David is set to become a very successful
politician, but this is only if he gives up any idea of a relationship
with Elise – something that is not supposed to happen. Will he choose to
accept his fate and have a successful career in politics or defy these
powerful men and pursue the woman he has fallen for?


The concept is certainly typical of what we have come to expect from
Philip K Dick – a mind-boggling dilemma that is borderline paradoxical –
and with the Adjustment Bureau’s unseen Chairman pulling all the
strings, they are an obvious analogy for guardian angels doing God’s
bidding on Earth. While this remains a fascinating idea for a story, the film is let down by the distinctly average representation of these characters (as
evidenced by the film’s equally unexciting title). It just seems as
though, with such a singularly epic concept driving the plot, the
visuals are undeservingly lacklustre.


It helps though that the chemistry between Damon and Blunt is so
compelling, as the pair play their characters with a charisma that lends
the film a lighter tone and saves it from being bogged down in
overly-complicated storytelling. They are also convincing as a couple
with an undeniable magnetic attraction between them, which helps to better understand the motive for risking their lives for each other, despite just a brief relationship.


Overall, while the story itself presents an intriguing notion, it is Damon and Blunt who sell the movie as an engaging thriller,
albeit one that doesn’t quite hold up to close inspection, especially
as the film progresses and we learn more about the Adjustment Bureau.
The more that is shown about their base of operations and how they
travel, the more unanswered questions are infuriatingly raised.


This is not to say that the film is not enjoyable – just an apparent missed opportunity.
There is surprisingly little action given the odds at stake in the
story, and when the film does pick up pace, it usually results in lots
of shots of Damon and/or Blunt running…and that’s all. Given the powers
apparently available to the Adjustment Bureau, it seems a shame that
nothing really happens that’s more visually stimulating. When the
acting is more interesting to watch in a sci-fi thriller than the
special effects, it seems fair to conclude that director George Nolfi
has missed a trick.





The gorgeous Emily Blunt talking about the film.


Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years. She was previously Acting Managing Editor of Homes and Gardens magazine, Publishing Editor at Macmillan Publishers and Editor of Pride Magazine. Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Screenwriting, has also been involved in many broadcast projects. Among other things, she was the devisor of the documentary series Secret Suburbia for Living TV.