The Adjustment Bureau Movie Review

While not exactly about arranged marriages – or the idea of disarranged ones for that matter – The Adjustment Bureau does come awfully close. Though in the case of this Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner, Minority Report) classic sci-fi fantasy yarn, people aren’t actually being told what to do, but rather led to imagine they’re in charge while a higher authority is pushing them around and calling the shots. A peculiar notion which originally stemmed from Dick’s chronic bouts of madness, but gets a fresh coat of paint here in its sentimental makeover.

Matt Damon is David Morris in The Adjustment Bureau, the youngest candidate to ever run for the US Senate and who may have not only some sort of god on his side (Terence Stamp) but NYC Mayor Bloomberg as well, in a grinning cameo. Though fate pulls a fast one on Morris, when a photo surfaces of the candidate indulging in a full mooning for the cameras while doing the party animal thing in college.

When the voting returns go south on election eve, Morris heads to the posh hotel john to sulk. Where he’s both shocked and pleased to run into Elise (Emily Blunt), an alluring professional dancer hiding out in a stall from security guards in pursuit, who caught her crashing on a whim a wedding on another floor.

Following this brief bathroom encounter sealed with a fleeting kiss, Morris finds himself surrounded by a whole lot more than peeved hotel security guards. There seems to be an entire battalion of celestial bullies in identical gray suits and fedoras, determined to keep the two prospective lovebirds apart so that Morris can make another bid for office. And presumably on his way to the presidency. But with one renegade (Anthony Mackie) switching over to self-appointed guardian angel, though he confesses to not having a clue about what’s going down because ‘it’s above my pay grade.’

The reasoning of these perfectionist cosmic cops obsessed with enforcing happy endings on planet earth – when human aren’t running all kinds of messy interference – is that emotions inevitably doom aspirations. So while The Adjustment Bureau may be strictly futuristic territory, let’s just say we’re regressing more than a little here into Adam And Eve retro cautionary, blame the dame territory.

The directing debut of screenwriter George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum, Ocean’s Twelve), The Adjustment Bureau is a visually enticing surreal romp, but a thriller hampered by a production that is more about ideas than action, with most of the latter confined to running around in circles. And a movie about how oppressive a regimented routine can be, while a little more infusion of applied dictatorship on the part of the filmmaker, would have gone a long way towards tightening up these frequently limp proceedings.

Universal Pictures

Rated PG-13

2 1/2 [out of 4] stars