For some reason, all the trailers and television spots for ‘The Adjustment Bureau’, writer-director George Nolfi’s adaptation of a marginal Philip K. Dick short story, have featured Matt Damon and Emily Blunt running around all over the place. That makes it seem like it’s a movie about people who run around all over the place. It’s not. There is running, but it’s not the movie’s central concern.
Damon plays a charismatic congressman running for Senate. On the night of his election, he realizes that he’s losing badly, and goes to the bathroom of the Waldorf-Astoria to compose himself. In the bathroom, he runs into Blunt, as a ballerina who on this particular night has been dared to crash a wedding. The two hit it off immediately, and it’s a testament to Nolfi’s economic storytelling that we feel the two characters click.
This is important because, for much of the rest of the movie, a shadowy group (the titular Adjustment Bureau) tries to keep them apart. The Bureau (among them Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, and Terence Stamp), are the dudes who pull the strings, and they have definite plans for Damon’s politician. Apparently, none of those plans involve Blunt.
It’s fun to watch Damon try to get with this adorable girl, as the guys behind-the-scenes scramble to catch up with them. The movie wears its romantic heart on its sleeve. It’s a surprisingly sweet story, with the two leads showing immediate, identifiable chemistry in a way few actors do these days. (Oof, I just had a violent flashback to ‘The Tourist‘ – make it stop!)
We’re never let in on the Bureau’s machinations, or why they want these two apart so badly. Yet the movie, for all its heady ruminations on the nature of fate and destiny, keeps us so grounded with the core romance that none of these tangential elements matter much. I mean, they do matter, to enrich the story and give it greater depth. But rarely does the movie get lost in its own hokum, at least to a point where the audience says, “Wait a minute, hold on. Bring on all that running we saw on the commercials!”
To say much more would give away the fun of the movie. It spectacularly climaxes in what can only (vaguely) be described as the second greatest “door chase” of all time after ‘Monsters, Inc.’. Damon and Blunt do great work. Nolfi, a noted screenwriter but here a first-time director, shows a lot of skill behind the camera. And it’s that unexpected emotional oomph that makes ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ one of the better Philip K. Dick adaptations.
This is good to hear. I hate to say it but sometimes a really want to see a movie solely based on its trailer and this was one of those situations. Luckily it sounds like the movie lives up to it promotions.
I can’t agree with you here Drew. This is one of the worst movies I’ve seen this year. From its uninteresting band of fedora men to its completely gutless and witless ending this movie literally made me angry while watching it.
The ending is akin to “It was all a dream,” and wholeheartedly negates the entire movie you just watched. The guys chasing them are bumbling morons most of the time. Guys who can change the environment with the simple wave of their hand, but can’t for the life of them run down Matt Damon with Emily Blunt in tow. Oh, that’s because they’re those antagonists that simply just walk or lightly jog even if it’s really important.
I hated, hated, hated this movie it’s silly nonsensical religious undertones. It’s inability to finish everything it started, and it’s nauseating rate of exposition.
Whew! Man. Sorry about that. I’ve been meaning to let that all out.
Sounds like how I felt about The Extra Man, Aaron. 🙂
I’m conflicted about this one. The trailers have all looked horrible, IMO. They make the movie looks exactly like The Box, which stunk up a huge storm so bad that I still can’t quite purge the smell of it from my mind even two years later. However, in addition to Drew, a film critic friend of mine whose opinion I usually trust loved the movie:
On the other hand, the critic from the Boston Globe is on your side and mercilessly tore it to shreds this morning.
Just wondering. Is his whole review just those couple paragraphs? I feel like I’m missing something.
Anyway, my favorite review of the movie, besides mine of course, is from Walter Chaw. He NAILS it.
The publication he writes for is the Canadian equivalent of the “Phoenix” newspapers. He has a very limited amount of space to write capsule reviews.
Oh, that makes more sense. I was searching and searching for a “Read More” link.