Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Genre: Sci/Fi, Action/Adventure
Opens locally Friday, March 4th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour 46 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie
Written & Directed by George Nolfi (directorial debut)
Obviously, when a movie is categorized as “sci-fi”, there is a part of us that must suspend disbelief and as Adam Sandler would say, “just go with it.” Once we learn the rules of the sci-fi/fantasy world we are immersed in, all’s we want from it is to make sense within the realm of it’s own rules. “The Adjustment Bureau” is the latest excruciatingly painful science fiction film that fails specifically because it doesn’t make sense.
The Plot. Matt Damon plays a young and up-and-coming politician in New York, who looks to be the youngest Senator in history. He has a mean-streak, but is well-liked and on the fast track to success. One would think that he had gotten to this point based on hard-work and dedication, but he accidentally witnesses “The Adjustment Bureau” at work…a mysterious group of men who seemingly make “adjustments” so that we can all continue following “the plan.” What this means is, that time your alarm doesn’t go off, or you spill coffee, or you forget your briefcase? It may have been The Adjustment Bureau at work, preventing you or stalling you from something that you weren’t supposed to do in the first place. Make sense?
Oh God, you Devil. If not, that’s OK. This is all a thinly-veiled premise covering for a deeply religious undertone. The Adjustment Bureau acts on order of someone referred to as “The Chairman”, who could also be “God”, or “Donald Trump” or some other powerful unseen figure. We all have a “plan”, or a destiny, and there is not much free-will in the world. Of course, the movie tells us in a sappy speech near the end that free-will does exist, but I’d hate to ruin anything for you. Are the members of the Bureau angels? Demons? Unused extras from the set of Mad Men?
Thumpety-Thump, Thump. So the problem lies in the premise. This whole “adjustment” thing seems pretty important…are you telling me that these guys are so sloppy as to constantly screw up their cover? That their magic lies within their hats, like a bunch of Frosty the Fedora-wearing Snowmen? That somehow, their ability to monitor all of us humans is hampered when we are near water? Some plan. If you haven’t watched the movie, none of this may make sense, but if you do watch and then read this review, the above questions only scratch at the surface of the crazy-far-fetched world we are meant to buy into.
In Need of Adjustment. Emily Blunt is great to look at, but she adds nothing to the story either. Her and Damon are meant to be together, or so they think, or so we are made to think. In any case, we don’t end up caring.
In addition to the problematic plot, the rules of the game are not shown to us in any compelling way, but are instead spoken directly to us via multiple scenes of exposition. Character after character explaining how things work, how the hats are their secret…yes it’s true, upon this writing I still haven’t gotten over the whole magic-hat plot point.
Revelations. In sci-fi movies, the ending can also be a huge factor on how cool the movie is in retrospect…the ending of this film fell horribly flat. The Adjustment Bureau clearly does not tamper with scripts, or this one would have been conveniently shelved.
Free Willy. So if the movie is true, and we have the ability to exercise free-will after all, then by golly, choose to spend your time wisely and skip this film. If you do see it, just tell people it was part of The Chairman’s plan for you, and that you had no choice.
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