The Adjustment Bureau

Rated PG-13 106 min. 2011

The Adjustment Bureau is a conceptual thriller, a kind of meat-and-potatoes, clunky brain twister in Inception-mode. It centers on ambitious senatorial candidate David Norris (Matt Damon), an authentic, no-bullshit politician who has risen to the ranks of beloved working class hero. With his Senate hopes dashed, David returns to civilian life. But he remains obsessed with the gorgeous, free-spirited avant garde dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), whom he met the night of his senate concession speech. Elise represents a crossroads in David’s life. If he pursues her, he gives up his political ambitions. If he returns to politics without her, he runs the risk of being emotionally unfulfilled. Most people never ponder such either/or choices in their lives, but David has no choice but to existentially navel-gaze on whether pursuing Elise could be the end of his career dreams. He has unknowingly stumbled upon a vast conspiracy run by Mad Men-looking guys in gray flannel suits led by that show’s own John Slattery. Slattery is one of the minions in the adjustment bureau, a secret subculture of men headed up by Thompson (Terence Stamp) whose job it is to keep human beings on fate’s proper course. Director George Nolfi creates a world that operates by its own internal logic, but it’s a tediously explained, relatively boring logic centered on magic hats and a point made early on that you have to wait for the plot to circle back to. The Adjustment Bureau raises the intriguing notion of how we define happiness in our lives. But it’s far too long-winded and too complicated when it explains the where and why of its tangled plot to have us suspending disbelief for very long.

Film Credits

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Director: George Nolfi

Writer: George Nolfi and Philip K. Dick

Cast: Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Anthony Mackie, Terence Stamp, John Slattery, Daniel Dae Kim, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Michael Kelly, Liam Ferguson and Anthony Ruivivar


The Adjustment Bureau

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