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Considering all the garbage movie critics have to sit through in a
year, it's pretty amazing when a film that's smarter than most hits
theaters and makes a bit of an impact. Independent films are one thing,
but major ones released by bigger studios are even a bigger deal when
this occurs. I think that's one of the reasons Inception was so great.
Creativity and intelligence are two things that are usually lacking
from blockbusters. The Adjustment Bureau is a film that has a bit more
to it than you're probably expecting. Based on "The Adjustment Group,"
a short story by Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority
Report), The Adjustment Bureau has probably already caught your
attention either because you're a fan of Dick's work and/or the movies
that were adapted from it.
The film's charm is definitely in its explanation for things. The way the bureau works and how they function is a wonder in itself. You'll never look at a door or a man wearing a hat the same way again after viewing the film. Perhaps the most interesting is Thompson's explanation of how events in history like The Great Depression and The Holocaust came about. The story is very imaginative and different from the norm, which is always a fantastic change in pace when it comes to film. At the same time though, those who like having absolutely everything explained to them will probably be disappointed. The Adjustment Bureau explains enough to get the wheels in your brain turning and leaves some things open to your interpretation, which could hurt someone's overall opinion of the film depending on the viewer.
I've never been the biggest Matt Damon fan. My favorite memory involving him was the Team America parody that he wasn't even involved with, but I think of that "Matt Damon!" line every time I see him on screen. However, he did have strong showings in both Hereafter and True Grit from last year. He keeps the trend going here. David seems to be a guy who was once fueled by speaking in front of hundreds of people and politics, but has now replaced that void with Elyse. The chemistry he has with Elyse, despite feeling somewhat brief, is one of the driving factors of the film. Anthony Mackie winds up being the most memorable bureau agent mostly because he has an emotional tie to David, but John Slattery and Terence Stamp have some pretty noteworthy performances as well.
I have the impression that a lot of people will write this off as a Men In Black ripoff, but The Adjustment Bureau is a bit more clever than either Men In Black film. The films surely have their similarities, but The Adjustment Bureau deserves to be given a chance. I think it'll surprise a lot of viewers.
The Adjustment Bureau is easily the smartest live-action film to be released in the first few months of 2011. With a solid cast, a hefty helping of creativity, and just an absorbing experiencing overall, The Adjustment Bureau is bound to leave a lasting impression when it comes time to look back on the best films of the year. The film leaves you questioning how much of your life is really left to fate and chance. Films seem to leave an impression that lasts longer if it makes you think or strikes a cord or hits close to home in some capacity. This film does that and then some. It comes highly recommended even if you have your reservations about it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was invited to a free screening with a big group of friends in
Atlanta. I thought it might be right up my alley and it definitely WAS.
It's similar to "Inception" (one of my very favorites), but simpler.
This fantasy-suspense-action-love story is very intriguing and ROMANTIC. I don't think any of us have seen Matt Damon be this passionate about a woman in film before. THIS is the very best Matt Damon I've ever seen -- he is at his most charming, lovable, and most moving here. And that's coming from a big fan of the Bourne Identity films, The Departed, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Rounders, and many other Damon films.
The Adjustment Bureau has a great supporting cast. Emily Blunt was delightful and mysterious..... There were quite a few laughs as well as some gasps from our audience (a packed house, too.) Most importantly, the STORY is intriguing. Yes, that's what makes the film unforgettable is simply the story. It's imaginative and very well-written.
It's a family-friendly film as best I remember --maybe PG-13 because of some almost-nudity; but no swearing, no gore, no bad scares, and no drugs or alcohol. It's all suspense, charm, intrigue, action, and romance!
If you are not a fan of The Matrix, Inception, Moon, Memento, or other fantasy type mind-benders, then you may not enjoy this film. We loved it though. We heard rave reviews from other audience members afterward, too.
I was invited today to see an Advance Screening of this movie by a a
friend and was excited to find out it was this movie. I had seen the
preview during the commercial break from one of my TV shows that I
follow and it seemed promising.
In a movie world today where everything released just seems to be sequel after sequel and remake after remake, I found this movie original and thought provoking. With a combination of elements that included thriller and science fiction themes, and then adding in a spiritual and romance side of things as well, this movie had it all.
I thought Matt Damon was excellent in his role and I was captivated for the whole movie in its concept it was drawing onto between fate and free will.
It is my hope many people will show up to see this movie. I loved it and know that I will definitely buy it when it's released on DVD in the future.
Oh and the theater I saw it in had a couple of hundred people watching it and they erupted into applause at the end. How often does that happen these days at the end of movies? Hopefully that tells you how great this movie was!
I'm starting to like this new genre of science fiction romance that
"The Adjustment Bureau" falls into. Hollywood seems to have learned how
to add a significant amount thought to their films, just with their
usual dumbing-down procedures.
David (Matt Damon) has met Elise (Emily Blunt) and based on one spontaneous kiss and one flirtatious encounter, he's determined that she's the one he's supposed to be with. They have other plans. Oh yes, the indefinable, ambiguous pronoun "they". Just to keep a sense of the intrigue afloat, I'll define "they" as the men of "The Adjustment Bureau". What they want, we don't really know. But David wants the girla beautiful girlbut just a girl nonetheless.
For us, questions of free will, fate, soul mates, success and pre-defined destinies abound. All running around an intricate maze of New York architecture. Although intricate might not be the best word because there's nothing here for us to figure out; the film lays everything out well in advance, and over and over again in case you missed it. At least there's intelligence to the story but unfortunately no subtlety.
"The Adjustment Bureau" has pretty city-scapes and pretty people playing more profound characters than pretty people usually play. As with most genre-mixing films, there is something for everybody. I got the intelligence that is usually sorely missing from big-budget Hollywood action films although I could have done with a bit more respect.
What if your own free will was nothing of the sort. Every move you made
was in accordance with a master plan, any kinks or imperfections
"adjusted" by persons unknown, constantly on hand to ensure you stayed
Many people might assume that their lives are quite the reverse, with all the bad decisions they have made, anything resembling a master plan is unlikely.
David Norris (Matt Damon) is a rising New York Congressman with his heart set on becoming a young Senator, everything is going according to plan until he meets the beautiful quirky ballerina, Elise (Emily Blunt) in a mens restroom.
Elise inspires him in ways that he could not have imagined but any longer term relationship is not part of the plan the "Men in Grey" have mapped out. They do not like their careful plans messed with, ever. Although they do get to wear Trilby's, which not only look cool but are also a necessary tool for their profession.
The many scenes between Blunt and Damon are very believable and natural, real chemistry in action and is fun to watch. Blunt is a breath of fresh air in the congressman's driven life, living more in the moment than he possibly ever did before.
Just when you think the film will descend into a smorgasbord of special effects, the story goes into the opposite direction. A thoughtful and character driven piece about choices and the ripple effect each path taken, or not taken, has on your own and other peoples lives.
Terence Stamp, still with one of the best voices in the business, together with Anthony Mackie & John Slattery, do good work as the agents attempting to get everything back on track.
There are some good lines and Damon can play an aspiring politician with ease, no doubt he could be one in real life if he chose to move in that direction.
The central question of defining who we are by the choices we make is explored and it is good to see another movie messing with our heads, if only just a little. If we have no free will are we still the people we thought we were, very deep but don't panic, the film does not get too caught up in this existentialism.
The action is limited, there are no cars exploding and the body count is non existent, a refreshing change from most modern films. A film that could have been made in the 50's from a story point of view, although actually based on a short story by Phillip K Dick of "Do Androids dream of electric sheep" fame, the inspiration for "Blade Runner".
Production values are good, although not of the highest flight. The costumes worn by the adjustment police are rather dodgy and look like guys with spare motorcycle helmets sprayed black. Not what you would expect in a big budget Hollywood movie, a small point but quite noticeable.
Similar to many films of this genre, the movie has to decide how to wrap everything up neatly. The final reel is perhaps a little disappointing but that depends on how you would want the film to end, somehow it feels that the easier option was taken.
A well made and more thoughtful film than you might be expecting.
Well acted with a believable romance, a light dusting of Sci-Fi and a great story. "Inception" lite perhaps, which is certainly recommendation enough for any film.
Jan 11: I was invited to see and rate this movie at a free audience
screening. While biting the hand that feeds you is incredibly bad form,
this film is not worth paying a full price admission. DO see it on the
big screen, but go to the matinée instead.
Caveat, I'm not the target audience, (and hadn't read the short story source first) so for you to calibrate: I rated Jumper at 7; Avatar at 6 bumped up to an 8 for CGI; and Last Airbender at 3.
This film has all the individual elements for a great time: The opening draws you into the story; Blunt is engaging and sensual; Stamp is villainous; Damon/Blunt have fabulous chemistry including a great meet; initial mystery, sophisticated humor, snappy repartee, wonderful score, and superb scenery. The supporting characters are well cast and acted. However, the thin plot doesn't sustain the whole movie, and it takes too long for the minimal plot to unfold, even though there are myriad chase scenes to divert you at first.
The movie was seemingly created for chase scenes, with a poorly contrived reason for the "boy meets girl, boy loses girl but continues to search for her storyline", tossed in to justify all the chasing. In attempting to make everything mysterious, the audience is kept as ignorant as the characters to the point where it became "THATS the reason he's been chasing after her? How DISAPPOINTING!" when the cause for separation is unveiled. The secret meetings which presumably either advance or reveal the mystery were annoying instead. Finally, in the last portion of the movie, the opening doors and running become so repetitive, you can feel like the Blunt character, who has her hands over her head and is screaming. The ending is abrupt, contrived and disappointing, a veritable deus ex machina version.
Conversely, my companion who loves everything sci-fi or sci-fantasy, and reads Phillip K Dick (including the short story on which this was based) rated the movie "excellent" as opposed to my "ok". Even though the movie diverges from the short story, he suffered no confusion or disappointment with the story line, big reveals, or ending. He also thought the cast, romance, and humor were great.
We both agree--do see the movie on the big screen as it certainly enhances the suspense and startling moments (political crowd scene, adjustment scene, car crashes, action scenes and finale) and shows off the great NYC locations. He says go ahead and pay full price,the movie is worth it
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Adjustment Bureau" is preposterous, and before you counter with
"Well, duh, it's science fiction," allow me to elaborate. I'm down with
the premise that mankind is safeguarded by an invisible shadow
organization that dictates the paths we follow and the decisions we
make what baffles me is that they achieve these means through (spoiler
alert?) magic hats. I wish I were joking. The single biggest misstep in
this bungled Philip K. Dick adaptation is that the mystique of our
antagonists is dispelled almost instantaneously. We get to know our
aggressors who, as it turns out, are anything but aggressive. To
compare genres, there's never been a great thriller where the detective
in pursuit of a killer is 'just doing their job.' Passion breeds
compelling cinema, and the paper pushers at the heart of "The
Adjustment Bureau" are supremely uninteresting.
And despite the fact that they are explicitly "not human," a very human error sets the plot in motion. An Adjustment Bureau agent oversleeps (these guys sleep?), thus congressman and senate hopeful David Norris (Matt Damon) catches an early bus, bumping into a familiar comely Englishwoman (Emily Blunt) whom he was never supposed to see again. The film's saving grace is the pair's believable rapport, but after the forces that be repeatedly pull them apart, with sometimes years lapsing between meetings, it gets harder and harder to believe either is still carrying the other's torch.
Then you get into the contradictions and lapses in logic so heady a concept lends itself to. The law that governs the Adjustment Bureau is foggy at best, and though they evidently think nothing of freezing time to manually alter the opinion of Norris' political adviser, they seem incapable of preventing the divergences Norris himself so frequently propagates. Why not squelch Norris' irksome infatuation through similar tactics? Elsewhere, the Bureau threatens him with a memory wipe, but repeatedly chooses to reason with him rather than to take more effective action. For as much as they make of their supposedly infallible planwhich looks a lot like the animated Marauder's Map from "Harry Potter"and the omniscience it grants, these celestial shepherds are about as dumb as sheepdogs.
In the belated final act, Norris races toward the mother of all movie climax clichésthe eleventh hour wedding intervention. With his unrequited love set to marry another dude, Norris exploits "The Adjustment Bureau's" two most ridiculous plot devices in order to intervene. First, he scores a magic hat, enabling him to access the subspace network that provides a series of shortcuts throughout New York. Second, he cloaks himself in a rainstorm, which like all water, inexplicably clouds the Bureau's ability to chart movement.
It's a shame that "The Adjustment Bureau" hangs its own proverbial hat on so many ludicrous details. The big questions it poses, while far from new, are well suited for a love story, and the directorial debut of screenwriter George Nolfi shows some promise. Unfortunately it's the writing that's at fault here, and while I can't speak to the source material, Nolfi's adaptation is rife with questionable choices. Potential squandered, "The Adjustment Bureau" is cast adrift in sci-fi no man's land between good intentions and their eye-rolling realization.
"Trust no one with a hat," Norris is melodramatically advised. "A Yankees cap, even a yarmulke." No joke, if you can swallow a line like thathat's off.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Adjustment Bureau, written and directed by George Nolfi based on a short story by the name of Adjustment Team by Philip K. Dick, is about how much one would be willing to sacrifice in the name of love. Matt Damon plays David Norris, a young, ambitious, idealistic Congressman seeking election for a seat in the Senate. However, upon a short encounter with Elise (Emily Blunt), when they share a brief but meaningful kiss, David realizes his true love lies with Elise, not at the hands of registered voters of New York City. The adjustment bureau quickly notices the spark, and was determined to separate the two lovers because according to "the plan", their love was never meant to be. David, however, refuses to back down, and fights against his fate to be with the one he loves. What makes The Adjustment Bureau a truly great movie is that it sends a powerful message: don't be afraid to go after what you want. Even if it means going against the will of a powerful, if not divine being. The movie makes it no secret that "the chairman" is a symbolism for God, and the people of the adjustment bureau are His angels ("we've been called that (angels)", says Harry Mitchell, a member of the adjustment bureau in one scene). However, in the film, even God is not all powerful, as He only has limited enforcers in the adjustment bureau, so if a nuclear warfare were to break out, even He could not prevent the catastrophe that would follow. The film also makes a strong case that free will does take its toll. As Thomson, another adjustment bureau member reminds us in another scene, that although "the chairman" has blessed us with the gifts of intellect and reason, it was those same gifts that caused the world to be on the brink of destruction during the Cuban missile crisis. To add additional pressure for David to keep away from Elise, Thomson informs David that if he chooses to be with her, not only will it ruin his dream, but will also ruin her dream (she is fated to be a famous dancer, and then a famous choreographer). As if to add insult to injury, Thomson flexes his muscle, causing Elise to sprain her ankle, then telling David that he is the one to blame for her injury. After a few twists and turns, the film reaches its climax with a showdown between David and the Thomson, which was very exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat (as did all other parts of the movie), I have to admit that the resolution was a bit of a cop out (I won't ruin it for you). In fact, if the movie had a resolution that was as epic as the rest of the storyline, I would not hesitate to give it 10/10 stars. Unfortunately, the ending did disappoint me a great deal, so as it stands, I'm giving it a 9/10. As a final note, I would like to say that you were planning on watching this movie at all, you almost certainly should see it in the theater. Director George Nolfi (FYI, this is his first movie as director) incorporates beautiful cinematography, as well as great sound mixing (or is it sound editing? I'm not sure). I especially loved the clicking noise of the dressing shoes of Thomson and his enforcers against the tile floor as they chase down David to set him on his "correct" path. The noise was complimented by their perfect formation, as they all send a clear message: we are the ones in charge, and we WILL hunt you down.
Fate, coincidence and free will come at odds with one another in this
sci-fi romance re-imagined by George Nolfi from the short story,
"Adjustment Team", by sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick. Nolfi's plot can go
from interesting and intriguing to downright silly at times but the
main attraction is not the narrative. It is the pulsating chemistry
between lead stars Matt Damon and the sensually beguiling Emily Blunt
set in all the famous spots of Manhattan and NYC.
Having been to New York City recently, I find the sets nostalgic, and I am defenseless to the charms of Emily Blunt.
Young Senate candidate for New York City, David Norris (Damon), is rehearsing his speech in the men's restroom when a beautiful stranger (Blunt, right, with Damon) emerges from one of the stalls and starts chatting with him. Before she leaves - in quite a hurry - they have an impulsive, passionate kiss, and he is smitten. Their next encounter in a city bus has to be by chance - and he learns that her name is Elise. He is determined to call her. To court her...
And then David comes across a bunch of Men in Black suits and hats, led by a Mr Richardson (John Slattery), who says bluntly: "We are the people who make sure things go according to plan." David's relationship with the free-spirited Elise is NOT part of their plan and he must not see her again - for both his and her own good! The rest of the movie is, of course, the tussle between Love and Fate for David. After being charmed by Elise, a rising star ballerina, we can understand why David is bent on seeing her. We can also understand how their relationship would possibly wreck their careers - and why David would want to take a chance on that. David and Elise seem so perfect for each other that we root for them.
It is good that Nolfi has written such a romantic angle into this Dick tale instead of turning it into another action flick like "Total Recall", "Paycheck" and "Screamers". He could have polished up a bit more on the second half to keep it from becoming childish, though. Still, the notion of Fates personified could not be taken too seriously - and it would be better to just go along with the flow of the love story so charmingly portrayed by Damon and Blunt - and supported by a sympathetic Anthony Mackie and menacing Terence Stamp as members of the Adjustment Bureau. Emily Blunt has such captivating eyes that look into your soul and make you weep.
Those who have seen the trailer will think that this is a cool,
exciting action film about men who control the destinies of others and
the man who says, "I will not stand for this!" but sadly that is not
the story of the film. The concept is great and there are moments where
I thought the film was going to get better because the story sounds
I'll start with the good. As I have mentioned before the film sounds interesting and as these mysterious men enter the film, you are interested to see what they can do. Anthony Mackie and John Slattery were well cast and Matt Damon's performance while not perfect (because of the script) is good and keeps the film together.
Apart from the above I can't think of anything else because the script is dull and the characters feel one-dimensional. Emily Blunt has little to do in the film and Terrence Stamp is completely misused. We hear how his character is cold and will do anything to get the job done but the film never shows this.
What could have saved the film would have been some kind of emotional pull if we felt that the two leads were meant to be together because that would have kept the film interesting. Instead there is little reason to care what happens by the end.
Themes including free will and pre-destination are mentioned and are interesting when they are brought up but the script doesn't do anything with it. Without spoiling anything, Matt Damon does make a discovery halfway through the film and it could have been a major plot point but the way film deals with it feels unnatural and out-of-character.
The film also lacks a sense of energy but maybe that is due to my initial expectations as the film is completely miss-marketed as an action thriller. However the film could have played up the villains in the film (if you can call them that) because you learn what they have done and what they are capable of doing.
In the hands of another director, this would have been an enjoyable film to watch. The idea is there but something went wrong along the way and this is the result. This isn't essential viewing but if you are interested, rent it.
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