Matt Damon and Emily Blunt try to steal our minds but
succeed in melting our hearts instead.
Bureau is another Hollywood shot at adapting a Philip K Dick story. Over the years there have been the sublime,
even bettering the source material, in Blade
Runner (1982), the over-the-top fun nonsense in Total Recall (1990) and the outright awful in Paycheck (2003). Thankfully Bureau fits very neatly into the second
category but manages to go that one better by introducing a hugely engrossing
romance at the centre of it all.
About to be voted
into the Senate politician David Norris (Damon)
meets sultry ballerina Elise Sellas (Blunt).
Failing to win the election Norris goes back to his day job but cannot get
Elise out of his head. Running into her one day they strike up a relationship.
However, their paths of destiny were not meant to cross again and now the
powers that be send in The Adjustment Bureau to make sure both David and Elise
follow their proper paths rather than remain together.
marketing had the film billed as Bourne meets Inception, which is a desperate
attempt to cash in on other box-office success stories. Yes it has Matt Damon
doing a lot of running, a la Bourne, and it has elements of that otherworldly
intrigue of Inception, but both of these elements are secondary to the romance
of the film.
title, the story is very much about the couple caught up in it all. In fact the
Bureau remain a mystery throughout. There is some suggestion they may be angles
as they “have been called that” and therefore working to God’s plan, but their
motives and abilities seem to chop and change according to what fits into the
drama of the story rather than anything coherent. Of course the question of
fate and destiny over free-will, or love versus ambition, makes for a lively
philosophical debate but it is rarely addressed in anything more than a
So if you ignore
the plot holes, and there are many, you will find yourself swept up in the
heart of the piece. Writer, and here first time director, George Nolfi does not hang about. Like the relationship of the film
everything happens at a whirlwind pace. Of course Nolfi made his name writing
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) so
hanging about is not his strong suit. But this is to his credit. The action is
kinetic, the pacing is exciting and the romance is stunningly rendered thanks
to some snappy dialogue that would make even a Billy Wilder smile with glee.
Much of the
film’s success arises from Damon and Blunt. The chemistry between the two is
simply electric, they fizz off each other in such a way that you desperately
want them to be on screen together as much as possible. Damon finds a brilliant
balance of cocky charm combined with a impulsive sensibility that belies his
straight-shooting politician. Blunt meanwhile continues to prove one of the
most interesting and intelligent young actresses around. Her passionate
portrayal of Elise is the perfect foil for Damon’s gigawatt smile. Rarely does
such sass and sexual presence combine to create such a warm character. Special
mention should also go to Mad Men’s John
Slattery as a member of the Adjustment Bureau. He brings his typical style
of glib humour that makes for a delightful running joke, pun intended, which
builds with his frustration at Damon’s refusal to conform.
This is why we go
to the cinema, to be carried away on an adventure with characters we can
identify with and yearn to spend more time with. It could have done with a few plot tweaks here and there but this
Bureau needs very little adjusting.
The gorgeous Emily Blunt talking about the film.