Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Adjustment Bureau Film Review

When I first saw the trailer for this I was extremely intrigued- a 'sci fi' romantic thriller with Matt Damon and upon seeing film posters, which labelled it "Bourne meets Inception", I didn't think I could resist it (LOVED INCEPTION). 

US Politician David Norris (Matt Damon) is set to become the youngest senator, but a chance meeting with dancer Elise (Emily Blunt) causes his path to diverge, which is detrimental to the Adjustment Bureau, who is in charge of making sure "things go according to plan". Determined to follow his heart and his feelings, he goes against his fate despite being warned that choosing Elise will lead to him lose his political career, and Elise her dancing career. Will love triumph over all?

The premise to this movie is absolutely golden. Two people fall in love, but fate is against them. This dark idea that in choosing love, they lose everything else is movie magic. So what went wrong? 

The beginning was somewhat slow and dragged out, though subtle hints were dropped about the existence of The Adjustment Bureau (blending into crowds etc) which in a way I suppose laid some groundwork, but I felt the political aspect was far too long, only to be saved by the entering of Elise (Emily Blunt) who lit up the scene and grabbed my attention. 

David was not meant to see Elise ever again, but despite The Adjustment Bureau trying to step in, chance would have it that they would catch the same bus one morning, changing both their fates. When David is approached by The Adjustment Bureau and was told exactly what would happen. He must get back on the right path, written by "The Chairman" and he must not tell anyone of their existence. If he does, he will be "reset" = lobotomized.

Three years later, David bumps into Elise again and he is determined to be with her this time, but the stakes are raised. Some meagre failed interventions (unimpressive taxi crash) to try and break up the relationship lead to David being visited again by The Adjustment Bureau, this time by higher level agent Thompson. I really did not like all the talking as they already set out the groundwork and the terms of his decisions- this repetition is unbearable I want to see some action!!

Another time jump later and the action truly peaks and Inception comes into play. David Norris finally makes his decision (what took him so long) to risk everything to be with Elise and decides to find "The Chairman" and rewrite his fate, grabbing Emily Blunt for the ride. They both run (Bourne) and jump through doors (Inception). Where was this at the beginning?!

I wish they'd cut to the chase a LOT earlier- from the second "chapter" they could've decided to be together against all the odds and start running and trying to find "The Chairman" etc- now there's your story! I know they don't want it to be Bourne but in trying not to be Bourne, they've wasted the true potential of the movie. 

Another thing which I feel the movie tries to do too much of is put in religious themes and questions such as fate, free will, God etc which is the driving force behind all of this, but not the focus and by placing so much emphasis on these themes, they compromised the action element.

The Adjustment Bureau has so much power (potentially) as given evidence by the shuddering of the bus, the taxi crash and the foot sprain, but the climax of the movie where they pair are running from them, they seem utterly powerless- NO explosions or obstructions at all- they were just running in a big group = doing nothing. I felt that the movie was far too weak in its action element - they really could've thrown in a high speed car chase or far more supernatural forces as the cutting of phone lines and such was really creepy.

As the movie drew to a close, the resolution of the film was far too easy and really did not require all that effort. From an artistic point of view, yes, it makes it quite a moving resolution in terms of the themes of a loving God and so on, but really not that great for a potential blockbuster!

Matt Damon- David Norris
Emily Blunt- Elise Sellas

Also stars Anthony Mackie, John Slattery and Terence Stamp.

Matt Damon does a good job as a humorous and impulsive politician, but he really isn't 25 anymore- he does not stand out in this unlike Emily Blunt who is purely stunning in the expression of her character- a fun and carefree dancer, which reminds me of Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer. The lines that are given to Blunt are first class and she brings most of the humour into it which definitely lightens up the slightly repetitive talking scenes between Damon and the Bureau.

Masked as a "sci fi action romantic thriller", The Adjustment Bureau is far more of an art house film than meets the eye, at least for the first half of the movie and the themes that are explored, whilst the second half is a half-hearted lack of action anticlimax which in trying to hard not to be Bourne, falls flat. 

This movie had immense potential if more focus is put on action and pace, which could easily have been achieved by sending the pair on the run from their second chance encounter (needed more Emily Blunt- she was superb), throwing more supernatural obstructive forces in their way, using the mysterious "fate/path" book to their advantage and concluding with a mysterious, non-typical ending which would really make this "Bourne meets Inception".

ASIDE: After people saw Inception, every little thing that was paranormal or out of the ordinary, people would say "It's Inception!" but after seeing this, they may just say "It's the Adjustment Bureau!"- admittedly it doesn't quite have the same ring, but it has that same eeriness.

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