[Movie Review] The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

The works of Philip K. Dick have been adapted to the silver screen for over two decades, ranging from Blade Runner to A Scanner Darkly, Dick’s work has often succeeded in creating a completely new world based on reality. Does The Adjustment Bureau, the most recent of Dick’s works to be adapted, merit to shift to the big screen?

The Adjustment Bureau centers around current Congressman and potential Senate hopeful David Norris, played by Matt Damon. The film rapidly fills in the blanks to give us an idea of the kind of man that Norris is. Truth be told, he’s a charming, playboy politician who has found himself on the wrong side of plenty of headlines throughout his budding career.

As Norris is preparing to deliver his speech on Election Night, he seems to have a chance meeting with a woman in the men’s restroom, Elise (Emily Blunt). Elise is charming and convinces David to be authentic, and the two share a passionate kiss before Norris is dragged onto the stage, only this mysterious woman seems to have made a big impression on him.

As the story unfolds, David and Elise again encounter each other by chance, this time ona New York City bus. The problem is, the mysterious agency we have only barely seen seems to hate the idea of the two of them getting together, which sets in motion the events of the film.

The Adjustment Bureau is an intense, thought-provoking film, bolstered by the magnetic chemistry between David and Elise right from there very first moments on screen together. Damon and Blunt exude a raw, natural passion that carries the film from potentially being just another action film into something much more captivating and rewarding.

Damon’s undeniable charm is on display throughout the film, but it’s his ability to portray that charm while also maintaining credibility as a saavy, intelligent politician that helps keep the movie in high gear. Blunt’s ability to be more than just eye candy also helps the movie elevate itself above similar competition. She’s witty, sexy, and vulnerable at once, and the two characters fit so well into each other that the romance feels worth investing in on multiple levels.

Anthony Mackie also gives a fantastic performance as a member of the mysterious hatted clan, providing the audience with enough information about the group to keep the film from ever feeling like it’s just buying time before the big climax.

Thomas Newman’s score really compliments the mood of the film, providing a haunting, yet optimistic soundtrack, while director George Nolfi shows Sam Mendes esque tendencies, framing shots with elegance and varying temperament.

Final Words:

The Adjustment Bureau is a fantastic science-fiction film boosted by lead performances of Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, along with fantastic supporting performances by Anthony Mackie and Terence Stamp (who I briefly mistook for Malcom McDowell) elevating the film into a unique thrill ride very much deserving of praise. It’s taut and engaging and never once loses steam as it races toward a thrilling, fulfilling conclusion.

Score: 8.5/10 (Really Good)

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