The Adjustment Bureau (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

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I am a sucker for a couple types of movies.  I love gritty dramas with great dialogue, people driving fast cars and movies with people fighting things out of their control to have a chance to be together.  Call me a softy but I love movies that show love is worth fighting for and The Adjustment Bureau was right in my wheelhouse. Thankfully the movie lived up to my expectations and delivered a solid film that was sentimental but never corny.

We meet David Norris (Matt Damon) in the midst of him running for senate in New York.  Norris is already a celebrity House member and is known for being the youngest one ever elected and for his impulsive behavior.  At first he is running a very successful campaign and is comfortably in the lead at the polls.  Then thanks to a picture of him mooning some old college buddies in the New York Post he loses horribly.  While practicing his concession speech in the men’s bathroom he meets Elise (Emily Blunt), a woman hiding from security because she crashed a wedding at the same hotel.  David and Elise have some playful banter and it is evident that there is a spark between them.  Elise starts making him feel better at this horrible time in his life and they share a spontaneous and passionate kiss.  Right after the kiss David is whisked away for the speech and Elise starts once again running from security before the two could exchange numbers or even last names. After being inspired by her to give a heartfelt concession speech that makes him the front-runner in the next election he tries and fails to locate her again.

So THATS who wrote the book of love!

Soon after Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) is supposed to make sure that Norris spills his coffee by 7:05 that morning so that he has to go up to his apartment and be late for work.  When this doesn’t happen he jumps on a bus and sees Elise sitting there.  Very soon the two continue the flirting from the bathroom and she gives him her number right before getting off the bus.  With this good news Norris floats into work and is on such a high he doesn’t notice everyone in the office is frozen in place until he is in his friend Charlie’s office.  There he notices a lot of men in hats and suits and people dressed up like SWAT messing with his friend’s head.  Needless to say this shocks Norris but the men in hats especially the one named Richardson (John Slattery) are just as surprised to see him and give chase to David when he bolts.  After capturing David they give it to him straight, they are members of the Adjustment Bureau and they are the people who make sure “the plan” is carried out flawlessly.  They are in the background and are never supposed to be noticed and no one can know about them.  Right before letting David go Richardson tells him two things; first, He can’t tell anyone about this or his men will wipe his mind, giving him a new personality and emotions and second, He can’t and won’t ever see Elise again because the two of them can’t be together.  David does not agree with the “plan” and tries his best to find Elise again to no avail until three years later when he spots her on the street.  When he catches up to her he learns quickly that the feelings are still there and he is determined not to let anything get in between them

Is it just me or does the thing on his left side look like a breast pump with an antenna glued on?

There is a lot more to the story than what I just summed up but to see this movie fresh and unspoiled is the best way to go.  The story is based on a short story by Phillip K Dick, the author whose high concept ideas have been a favorite of Hollywood for the last 30 years resulting in both good (Minority Report) and bad (Next). Thankfully The Adjustment Bureau falls squarely in the good camp.  Writer/ first time director George Nolfi takes the ideas of fate vs. free will, true love and higher powers and uses them to craft a well-rounded story.  It would have been very simple to make the focus of the film on The Bureau and watch all their tricks and powers for 90 minutes, but Nolfi instead makes a very romantic film with these elements as a support.

Just because you are controlling the free will of the world doesn't mean you can't look dapper.

To make a movie that plays to the hopeless romantic in all of us, the writing and directing is only part of the battle. You have to find two actors that are up to the task of convincing the world that they are in LOVE.  Emily Blunt and Matt Damon are up to the challenge and are great together in this film.  By the time the moviegoer is supposed to be rooting for the two to find a way to be together the pair might have spent five minutes of screen time together at the most.  It is an undertaking to show people that these two are meant to be in that short of time but Blunt and Damon had chemistry that shimmered on the screen.  The movie never had to keep telling the audience the two were in love it was there for everyone to see.  So it is not a leap to believe that the two main characters would take the actions they do in the film because who wouldn’t fight this hard for that love.

The Adjustment Bureau is a film that mixes a lot of different genres together without strain.  The movie has a bit of sci fi, a little bit of drama and some religious theology thrown in for good measure.  It is a movie that gives you a lot to think about and is a great “lets get some coffee and discuss” type of film.   Yet the picture plays best as a straight up romance with asking the questions of what is choice, what will make us the happiest and what are you willing to do for happiness?  For anyone that believes in true love or just likes films that wear their heart on their sleeve The Adjustment Bureau is for you.

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The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Written and Directed by George Nolfi
Starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terrance Stamp and Anthony Mackie

Posted by Ryan

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  1. This is a very good Matt Damon movie. Not as good as the Bourne Trilogy, but it is pretty good. I never knew who Anthony Mackie was until this film. I recall him in We are Marshall and this was a good role for him. This film really causes you to think about the Butterfly Effect Theory. It also makes you think about what exactly angels are and what type of influence they have on society. Anything is quite possible and I wish that everybody who watches this film keeps an open mind. It’s a lot like what we think of when we watch What Dreams may Come. I like the fact that they integrated the Butterfly Effect with the Theory of Relativity.

    • I thought the film was cast really well from top to bottom. Damon and Blunt had chemistry and I liked all the angels but especially Mackie and Terrance Stamp.

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