Director: George Nolfi
Stars: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Michael Kelly
Plot: When an ambitious politician fleetingly meets and falls for a dancer, he tries to find her again, only to discover he’s being prevented from doing so by a mysterious organisation.
One look at the roll-call of films based on Philip K. Dick’s short-stories will tell you all you need to know. One of the most influential science-fiction writers upon cinema originally wrote the concepts behind iconic movies such as Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and er, Next. And, just as tragically as Swedish writer Stieg Larsson, author of The Millennium Trilogy, his life was cut short at 53 before he saw any of his ideas transformed for the big screen.
The Adjustment Bureau is the latest film adapted from Dick’s fertile imagination. The story centres on New York Congressman David Norris (Damon), who has an unsuccessful tilt at becoming Senator of New York state. As his campaign ratings start to run away from his nearest rival, an embarrassing secret from his student days derails his prospects (yet the American people are quite happy to vote in George W. Bush as President…twice). Before making his concession speech, he meets Elise (Blunt) in the gents of a hotel, but who has to flee the scene with security guards in hot pursuit as she has crashed a wedding on the floor above. Norris becomes obsessed about this mystery woman and tries on numerous occasions to find her, but is seemingly prevented by doing so by a group of shady men in Fedoras.
This shadowy organisation turns out to have knowledge and power beyond comprehension – so much so that they are attempting to steer the course of both Norris and Elise’s lives so that their respective careers are successful, according to ‘the plan’. Apparently this cannot happen if the two of them are together and so Norris has to defy fate and make a choice between potentially making it into the White House or spending the rest of his life with the woman he loves.
To really appreciate The Adjustment Bureau, it is necessary to suspend your belief and approach the storyline with an open mind. Too many critics have been keen to slate the fantastical aspects of the plot (which will remain unspoiled), as we are transported around New York City via a dazzling array of random doorways as a means of instant transportation. The style of the film initially comes across as a government conspiracy as the mysterious men in trench coats finally reveal their motives – when this happens, the plot goes off on a completely different, surprising tangent that will divide its audience.
Matt Damon and Emily Blunt make a great double-act and have a convincing on-screen chemistry. Damon has the charisma to be a politician and Blunt character is more believable, partly due to the fact that she is thankfully saved from putting on a fake American accent. George Nolfi’s direction makes brilliant use of the urban landscapes and almost turns the film into a tourist video, as we run through and past famous landmarks such as the Yankees stadium and the Statue of Liberty.
The Adjustment Bureau may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are able to sit back and not take the ride too seriously, you’ll be in for a treat.