Friday, November 11, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Movie quotes:
"Tell me why I can’t be with Elise…because the last guy didn’t know."
- David

At a glance:
Based on a Phillip K. Dick story, there’s a clever concept at the heart of the Adjustment Bureau, but it is severely manhandled

Our review (with spoilers):
Congressman David Norris (Matt Damon) has his bid to run for the Senate squelched when  a long-ago college prank becomes a breaking story on election eve. Soon after, mysterious men appear, all wearing similar old man hats, to perform some sort of adjustment of events to suit their upstairs ‘chairman’. David finds out by accident, and then becomes our conduit to discover more about these ‘angels’ or case workers. Meanwhile, David continues to try to track down Elise (Emily Blunt), a mysterious woman who he met on election night, even though he has been forbidden to do so by these same adjusters.

This is your typical bland Hollywood approach to sci-fi. There’s a real laziness in establishing the A story. Why do we care whether David gets elected or not – just because he is young or is Matt Damon? Why do we care whether David and Elise make a love connection? The script and director George Nolfi barely lift a finger to convince us. And John Slattery plays his role way too flippantly for a guy who can change the world with a wave of his arm. There’s also way too much ‘Exposition Man’ syndrome - David conveniently has an angel (Anthony Mackie) to explain the convoluted rules of adjustment – most of which are soon broken anyway when it furthers the plot.

On the plus side, things briefly improve when Terence Stamp is on camera, and Emily Blunt’s dancing is excellent.

Rating: 2 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"Philip K. Dick's story The Adjustment Team was published in 1954. But the movie The Adjustment Bureau only trades on Dick's name. All else is shoved aside by George Nolfi, who directed and wrote the screenplay."
- Tony Macklin (

"We know Damon and Blunt are a perfect fit mostly because they finish each other's cutesy banter."
- Geoff Berkshire (

"…all the sci-fi stuff about men in hats and trench coats dictating life on Earth clashes brutally with the lovey-dovey meet-cutes."
- Steven Snyder (Techland)


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