The Adjustment Bureau a ho-hum sci-fi thriller, but Damon and Blunt are good together
– review by Shawn Conner
In his Entertainment Weekly review of The Adjustment Bureau, Owen Gleiberman calls the movie “enjoyable hokum.”
Well, he got it half-right.
The Adjustment Bureau is indeed hokum. Yet another movie based on one of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick‘s paranoid ideas (see our list of 10 movies based on Philip K. Dick’s work), The Adjustment Bureau stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt as Dick-crossed (sorry, couldn’t resist) lovers trying to make a go of it while mysterious hat-wearing dudes (including Mad Men‘s John Slattery) try to put a stop to their romance because, according to some nifty iPad-looking devices, it’s “not in the plan” devised by a mysterious entity referred to as “the Chairman” (either God or Oprah, it’s never made clear).
It’s high-school emotions set against the broadest possible notion of free will, and for awhile at least it’s possible to get caught up in the hokum, as it were. Damon and Blunt actually have a nice chemistry, though this is no doubt due in part to George Nolfi‘s script. The director, who is also credited for the screenplays of The Bourne Ultimatum and Ocean’s 12, gives the two some good lines and some interesting scenes. One almost wishes he would write a real romantic comedy – it certainly couldn’t be worse than most of what gets passed off under that name these days.
It’s unusual in a movie of this type, basically a fantasy thriller, to find characters with at least some depth and in a relationship that is almost believable. Unfortunately this isn’t enough to propel the movie through its final third, even with the appearance of the dependable, silken-voiced apparition known as Terence Stamp. Pursued by Stamp, who plays a fixer named “Thompson” who is spoken of with awe maybe because he is the only one who seems to know what the movie is about, the lovers flee. Logic is tossed completely aside in the ensuing chase, and we no longer care if the two wind up together, or go their separate all-American (well, Blunt is English, but whatever) ways.
By the last 20 minutes, the end is so inevitable that one is faced with the fact that a filmmaker in Hollywood these days really doesn’t have any free will.