The Adjustment Bureau fails to deliver
"The Adjustment Bureau" is an interesting concept that fails to lift off and deliver anything original. An adaptation of the Philip K. Dick short story "Adjustment Team" directed by George Nolfi and filmed on location in New York City, this picture consistently fails to astonish or live up to it's own hype. The story begins with David Norris, played by Matt Damon, on the campaign trail for Senator of New York. He meets a young woman by the name of Elise, played by Emily Blunt, and they are instantly attracted to one another. She runs off, presumably never to be seen again, until he conveniently bumps into her on a bus the next morning. It's a classic case of love at second sight however to Norris's dismay, the Adjustment Bureau, a team of businessmen like angels wearing magic hats intervene and tells him that he is under no circumstances to see Elise ever again.
Of course, if Norris had listened to this advice, there wouldn't be the two hours of predictable plot twists and mundane conflicts that follow. Unfortunately for the audience, he doesn't, and the result is what one can't help but feel is a waste of time and money.
The acting is admirable, one can tell everyone is doing their best to breathe life into the very foreseeable and banal plot line, but it falls short nonetheless. The action science fiction movie advertised in the previews comes off as a hackneyed suspense thriller.
The villain, Thompson, played by Terence Stamp, is particularly disappointing. Thompson is an Adjustment Bureau agent with a reputation so fierce he is known as "The Hammer", yet when he finally makes his onscreen debut, most of his interactions with Norris consist of dry, empty threats and warnings of an ominous future. Where is the space-time bending abilities illustrated earlier in the film? The $51 million budget has to be put to good use somewhere and considering that the movie is named after the organization, one would think the film would focus more on their mysterious powers. But alas, by the end of the movie, the Adjustment Bureau has been relegated to the role of scary men with hats, joining countless other faceless movie villains in routine bad guy boredom.
The film deals with some pretty heavy themes in a thoroughly shallow and predictable manner. The question is raised at several points of whether or not we are in control of our destiny. Is life just a series of fatalistic decisions or are we in control? However much the movie may try, I think audiences will be more interested in the adjusting they do in their seat out of boredom than the tricks which unfold onscreen.