I’ve been catching up lately on some of the films that I wasn’t able to watch during their all too brief stay in the local cinemas. After watching Hereafter the other week, I was a little dubious at the thought of another Matt Damon missed movie but, since Shutter Island taught me never to give up on Leonardo DiCaprio, I thought I’d bite the bullet and give Matt the benefit of the doubt with The Adjustment Bureau. I’m not convinced I made the right choice, possibly I should have spat that bullet right out, or at least chewed on it.
However, not to get ahead of myself, The Adjustment Bureau tells the story of David Norris (Damon), who keeps trying and failing to become senator for New York City. It transpires that he’s known for letting quite a few chances slip him by – something always seems to happen. During this latest attempt for political glory, Norris’ dreams are scuppered by dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), who persuades Norris with a kiss to speak truthfully at the final rally before the election. Clearly, that is a bad idea.
From then on it appears that fate is driving Damon and Blunt together but that is far from the case. On the contrary, we discover that fate is doing all it can to keep the two apart. Fate is personified by a bunch of suited and hatted men (not a female agent of fate in sight) who may live forever but seem just as susceptible to the errors of mankind as anyone else. Damon’s own particular agent of fate, or angel, is Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) who, unfortunately, is better at getting run over and chasing buses forlornly down the street than he is at stopping Norris and Sellas meet once again. In desperation, the agents of fate, with their leader Thompson (Terence Stamp) seal Damon within an office suspended in time. And there they tell him that he must leave Blunt, he must never explain the workings of fate to anyone, or he will have his personality, memories, character wiped.
With this in his mind, Damon has to make a choice. Should he abandon the dancer, when she needs him most, or should they stick together and work to change their destiny?
The problem is there’s so little depth here and so little promise of any real threat that it all seems rather tame. What about everyone else? Why are the forces of fate fixated on Norris and Sellas? Why are they so bad at their job? And why do I have to sit through another film with Terence Stamp playing some sort of evil all seeing being or a benevolent boss (same thing possibly)? How does Emily’s dancing compare to Natalie Portman’s? However, The Adjustment Bureau is not a bad film. It appears on the surface to be rather serious but on watching it there is little to test the viewer and it fair zips along.
Bourne Ultimatum writer George Nolfi has written, produced and directed The Adjustment Bureau. It does have a feel good feeling to it – maybe Nolfi wanted to give his Bourne hero a bit of a break. Damon is indeed enthusiastic in his role here, although I was perplexed by Emily Blunt’s character and, most especially, her accent. But, if I gave stars, this would get three of the five, especially if it sat in the summer holiday movie category.