The Adjustment Bureau | Movie review
A Philip K. Dick story undergoes an adjustment.
Softening a paranoid Philip K. Dick story into a wishy-washy parable on fate and free will, The Adjustment Bureau requires an adjustment indeed—those who walk in expecting a dystopian thriller will instead find a romance that might have been more profitably programmed before Valentine’s Day. A bit of hard-edged (if vague) political intrigue initially masks the film’s Capraesque intentions: New York senatorial hopeful David Norris (Damon) endures a spectacular electoral flameout after the tabloids get wind of his off-color college-reunion prank. (Is this the New York of Eliot Spitzer, or some alternative universe?) Not all is lost: Nursing his wounds, David meets his soul mate (Blunt) in the bathroom, and she inspires him to give a concession speech career-saving in its candor.
Cinderella leaves without leaving her number—but could it all be by design? David soon finds himself pursued by a team of mysterious bureaucrats with uncanny powers of premonition and the apparent ability to alter reality. Mad Men’s Slattery and a terrific Mackie split exposition duties, but to make a long story short, powerful forces have conspired to keep the lovebirds apart. A veteran screenwriter of the Bourne and Ocean’s movies making his directorial debut, Nolfi shows a fleet hand at chase sequences, evoking a literally shape-shifting cityscape with a minimum of fuss and effects. Positing life as a series of false dichotomies, in which one must choose between happiness and success, The Adjustment Bureau has little profound to say about choice or regret; unavoidable comparisons to Eternal Sunshine make it seem anemic. But Blunt and Damon are as appealing as ever—a fun couple to root for. Run these two together on a ticket, and fate takes over.