Adjustment Bureau, The (Review)

ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, THE
(3/04/11; Sci-Fi, Romance)
Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Michael Kelly, John Slattery, Anthony Ruivivar, Terence Stamp
SCR/DIR: George Nolfi
MPAA: PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image.
2 hours 4 mins
BOX: $60,735,145

David Norris (Damon) is a politician derailed on Election Day by some old college photos. On the verge of delivering a concession speech, he meets wedding crasher Elise (Blunt), a free-spirit dancer he immediately connects with. He is inspired enough to go out and tell the truth, something that propels his fortunes.

Despite a connection that feels fated, David run afoul of the “people who make sure things go according to plan,” a shadow organization meant to control the destinies of everyone on the planet.

Ah, yes – free will versus predetermined destiny, the hallmark of any good “science versus religion” debate. But this adaptation of a Phillip K. Dick story turns that debate into a physical chase as Damon tries to outwit and cajole his way into not only being with Blunt – and really, who can blame him? – but to outrun his own fate in the pursuit of love.

There are many ways this could have ended up foolish but the first best thing the film gets right is casting Damon and Blunt, two people who not only look good together but generate considerable chemistry. It’s not hard to believe they belong together. Stamp makes a great villain, and as arrogant Thompson (why do all the metaphysical puppeteers have human names?), he’s all old-school gravitas.

First-time director Nolfi sets up some good action set pieces and visual devices. He also never betrays the sci-fi concept and thematic debate, which works because it’s rooted in very practical settings. No adjustment necessary. (Universal)

— DENNIS WILLIS

Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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