The Adjustment Bureau
The Adjustment Bureau Keeps You Guessing
We are all familiar with the common phrase, ‘Everything happens for a reason’. How anyone feels about that statement is always a topic for lively debate. Are we not masters of our own fate? Or is there a greater force at work, behind the scenes, that affects the outcome of our lives? Entire religions have been founded on this simple premise. Regardless of how you feel about this eternal debate, ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ [TAB] offers its own take on this subject.
The script for TAB is taken from a short story titled ‘Adjustment Team’, written by Sci-fi author, Phillip K. Dick. Some of his other works were inspirations for high-profile films, such as ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Total Recall’ and ‘Minority Report’. Writer/Director George Nolfi (‘The Bourne Ultimatum’, ‘Oceans Twelve’) does a masterful job of reworking the story into an updated and cohesive script. While the genre here is decidedly science fiction; at its core, TAB is really a love story.
Matt Damon, as lead character, David Norris, gives an earnest performance that is on par with his outing in ‘Good Will Hunting’. As a political rising star, David has a seemingly chance meeting with a woman named Elsie Sellas, played effectively here by Emily Blunt (‘The Devil Wears Prada’, ‘Wolfman’). But according to some mysterious ‘plan’ the two should not continue the relationship. David inadvertently discovers the Bureau’s operation and is warned away from Elsie by its members. While the shadowy figures that claim to guide the future of mankind try to intervene, they have a difficult time in managing the undeniable attraction that this couple has discovered.
TAB uses surprisingly very little technical gimmickry, preventing the story from getting mired in gadgets and special effects. The premise behind the story is also made up of just a few simple concepts, so the audience doesn’t have to over-think the plot as things play out on the screen. Director Nolfi also smartly weaves in cameos of current political and pop-culture figures that add an extra touch of authenticity. His work here leaves the viewer on the edge of his/her seat from scene to scene, building up the anticipation to discover the truth behind the ‘Bureau’. His camera work in and around the city of New York is also quite effective, using well-known landmarks and settings to emphasize some of the critical scenes.
Additional cast includes Anthony Mackie (‘The Hurt Locker’) as David’s handler from the Bureau, and John Slattery (TV’s ‘Mad Men’) as his boss. Mackie is spot on as a troubled and less than perfect agent who questions his work. Slattery is also perfect as an authoritarian, but even tempered manager. My favorite co-star in all this has to be Terrence Stamp (‘Valkyrie’, ‘Wanted’) as the Bureau’s top trouble-shooter. His character is at once cool yet menacing, showing David potential consequences to diverting from the plan.
It’s hard to find anything bad to say about this film, so I guess the only fault I could find was that it turns out that the plan itself isn’t exactly cast in stone, so that it sometimes changes to suit the story lines - sort of like getting to have your cake and eat it too? It’s all of little consequence to the ending, so I guess it is really a moot point. I also saw this in the new RPX Theater at Fox Run Mall’s Regal Cinema. For an additional $5, you get fancier seats, a larger screen, and a premium sound system. While some of the scenes in TAB probably benefited from this larger screen format – I’m still not sure that I felt it was all that much better than the regular screens. This is probably a wave of the future for cinemas – and a sure path to steeper increases in theater tickets!