Saturday, 12 March 2011

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU review

Based on the Philip K. Dick short story, here's the new science-fiction tinged thriller starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. Watch the trailer and read my review, next...



On the evening of his election results, US Senate candidate David Norris (Matt Damon) has a chance encounter in a bathroom with a young woman named Elise (Emily Blunt), and finds his priorities undergoing a change. Just as a potential romance starts to blossom between the two, a group of hat wearing men known as the Adjustment Bureau step in to split the pair up and correct the path David was heading down. Instructed to stick to the divine plan that has been laid out for him and threatened with drastic consequences if he tries to contact Elise, David must find a way to be with the woman he loves and avoid the ever-watching men of the Adjustment Bureau.


Burdened with what must be the dullest title ever conceived, I really didn't know what to expect from The Adjustment Bureau. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick (the author of what would become Total Recall and Blade Runner), I was unsure of how this particular story would work cinematically. It's a fairly interesting concept (that we're all supposed to be walking along a strict path, and using a series of space manipulating doors a team of operatives get sent in when we stray from that path), but apart from offering the chance to create some interesting chase sequences, the whole film would depend on the effectiveness of the two main characters.


In the central love story we have Matt Damon's politician David and Emily Blunt's dancer Elise, making the romance work perfectly whenever the two share the screen. Both extremely likable actors, you could strip away all the sci-fi aspects and the film would still be enjoyable, thanks to the chemistry that exists between Damon and Blunt. Never mind the political plot strand or the master-plan of the unseen Chairman, at heart it is a sweet love story that just happens to transcend time and space, and this is the most watchable part of the film.


It's certainly not without its problems, namely the frustratingly stilted timeframe that film takes place in. When David and Elise find themselves in each others company, the story sizzles and ascends towards a glorious conclusion, only to get stopped in its tracks and sent back to square one. It's the tantric sex of film narratives... it stops, puts the kettle on and has a cup of tea, has another go, stops, watches an episode of Deal or No Deal and then has a final bash to get it over and done with.


The men of Adjustment Bureau may look cool, but are in need of some clarification over what their motives are to meddle in David's life. They are quite cryptic about their true identities (just say it... ANGELS) and who they work for, yet never really provide any threat when David chooses to ignore themThey look pretty slick in their suits and fedora's (headed by Mad Men's John Slattery; no stranger to sharp clothing), but make for a rather unorganised group with no real bad guy to offer any danger. Terence Stamp comes closest when he finally turns up, but by this time we've seen too many ineffectual bad guys to think he'll be any different.


There's some beautiful buildings and gorgeous architecture that makes the most of the New York City setting (most notably in the space bending final chase scene), and overall the film is quite a good first effort from screenwriter turned director George Nolfi. Total Film gave The Adjustment Bureau the handy summation of 'Bourne meets Inception', and whilst that's not the worst Post-It note review I've ever read, it doesn't really sell the film accurately. It's more like 'The Notebook meets Monsters Inc', but I suppose that wouldn't look as good on a poster, would it?


Verdict

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