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The Adjustment Bureau

A 2011 movie directed by George Nolfi.

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Avoid this Fate

  • Mar 4, 2011
Written and Directed by George Nolfi
Starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, Jack Slattery and Terence Stamp
David Norris: If I’m not supposed to be with her, why do I feel this way?
If you knew that being with you meant that the person you love would never realize his or her dreams, would you walk away from them?  If you wanted to, would you even be capable?  As interesting a question as it is, it is the kind of question that hardly anything good can come from.  If you want to stay, you’re selfish.  If you want to go, then you don’t think love matters as much as success does.  Regardless of your decision, you won’t be happy either way, but I suppose it got you thinking and that alone has its own value these days.  Take that question and throw it into the central story of a movie though and you might have yourself with a pretty compelling drama.  Or you might find yourself fully dismayed and just watching THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU.
Matt Damon, whose film choices as of late have all fell flat for me, plays David Norris, the youngest Congressman in American history, in George Nolfi’s directorial debut.  Nolfi and Damon last worked together on THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, which Nolfi wrote and Damon starred in.  Sadly, their relationship did not end there and, if I am meant to take anything away from their latest collaboration, it would be that it was obviously not meant to.  The men who work at this particular bureau all wear snazzy hats and sharp suits but they might as well be wearing sparkly fairy dresses covered in pixie dust, given what their jobs are.  These men, who may or may not in fact be angels, are making sure every day that the plan in place for every person on the planet is carried out properly.  To do this, they must meddle with humanity as inconspicuously as possible.  These are the guys who hide your keys in the morning or spill coffee on your clean shirt so that you leave the house five minutes later and either miss or catch the moment you were intended to.  And see, I always thought that was the work of garden gnomes.
Damon meets Emily Blunt’s Elise in a bathroom.  The seemingly chance encounter was not at all what it seemed and the two hit it off splendidly.  Suddenly though, she must flee, and unlike Cinderella, she leaves neither her name nor her slipper behind.  That was supposed to be the end of it, or at least according to the plan it was.  The kiss they shared was too good to be forgotten though and neither can get the other out of their heads.  The bureau simply cannot have this; it is not in the plan.  And so the men in suits and hats do everything in their power to keep these two lovebirds apart.  They point their fingers at peoples’ phones and messages appear or they flash a look in another direction and cabs go off duty.  I half expected them to start wiggling their noses and disappearing in clouds of smoke at one point.  They do all this to prevent Damon and Blunt from having a moment that might lead to a kiss, for a real kiss could alter their universes forever.  As laughable and trivial as that sounds, it actually happens in the movie.
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU clearly wants to come off as cool but really only comes off as trying too hard.  Nolfi’s direction is sorely uneven but with such a weak script, it could not have been easy to make the actors sound convincing.  Granted, he wrote the script as well so blaming the writer is just more blame on him.  Nolfi strives to get the viewer lost in the perilous divide between fate and chance, all the while trying to figure where free will fits in to the mix.  All he does is pose the question though without drawing any actual conclusions.  If we actually have free will, I suggest you exercise it and avoid this movie.  If our fates are already decided though, I hope you, like me, were not just meant to suffer through this movie.

Thanks for reading.
LUNCH rating is out of 10.

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March 05, 2011
Great review
March 05, 2011
March 04, 2011
Nice going, Joseph. I like Damon and I do like Blunt, so maybe I'll still see this one. It is either this or "Beastly" tonight but we haven't decided yet... I'll be back to comment further if and when I've seen it. Welcome back, man!
March 05, 2011
As much as I did not enjoy this film, I'm sure it is 1000 times better than Beastly.
March 05, 2011
yeah, I know....I may be dragged to see "beastly" soon (ulp), since a friend wants to see it but I did like RANGO. (have to review it sometime soon)
March 04, 2011
I wish my future had been adjusted so that I never had to see this movie.
March 04, 2011
March 05, 2011
Yeah, thought of that after I finished writing my review. I see that you liked the film though. Uh oh.
March 05, 2011
yeah, I kinda did surprisingly, (not by too much) but I think your review prepared me to lower my expectations quite a bit. ;)
March 06, 2011
I know a few people who like the film. I really just thought the execution was silly.
More The Adjustment Bureau reviews
review by . March 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
There is NO Fate But What You Make....But Do We Need Adjustment?
There’s something very familiar and yet it proves to be quite pleasing to the viewer when director/scripter George Nolfi takes on the movie adaptation of Philip Dick’s short story called “The Adjustment Team” and makes it “The Adjustment Bureau”. It has been wrongfully labeled as a sci-fi film, since it is anything but. It has strong themes of spirituality and of existentialism wrapped around romance, paranoia and mystery. Not really sure, it’s almost …
review by . March 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
It wasn’t until the middle of February in 2010 that I found my first 5/5 worthy film in Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island”, a heart pounding, gut-wrenching, brilliantly performed thriller that left my jaw on the floor and set a huge standard for the rest of the year, ending up as my #4 favorite by December. As February came and went and so did forgettable films like “I Am Number Four”, my hopes were starting to wane in general for 2011 in general when it came …
review by . July 09, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     Whenever I discover that a new Philip K. Dick novel is being adapted into a film, I can't help but be skeptical. Most of the time, I just sit down somewhere and let out a big sigh. This is not to say that I detest the Philip K. Dick-based films; a couple of them are very, very good. It's not particularly hard to get a basic understanding of what the writer had in mind when he wrote the story, especially in K. Dick's case. "The Adjustment Bureau" is the latest …
review by . June 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Other than the Bourne films and Good Will Hunting, I am not much of a Matt Damon fan and the trailers for this film reminded me of "The Forgotten" which was terrible. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised in how much I liked this film. It is kind of a more serious version of Looking for Mr. Jordan with a little bit of special effects thrown in. Damon is a young hotshot who seems destined to win the election for New York Senator. On the eve of the election he does something stupid which …
review by . May 02, 2011
Like Rango, ever since I saw a trailer for this with True Grit I had very high hopes for this movie. In some ways, this movie satisfied my expectations, but in some ways, it didn't. To put it in plain speech, The Adjustment Bureau was not the science fiction epic I thought it was going to be, but it was an entertaining and interesting movie with two strong lead performances and an interesting premise. Like the critics said, it did have some trouble maintaining a consistent tone, seeing as it …
review by . March 15, 2011
Like Rango, ever since I saw a trailer for this with True Grit I had very high hopes for this movie. In some ways, this movie satisfied my expectations, but in some ways, it didn't. To put it in plain speech, The Adjustment Bureau was not the science fiction epic I thought it was going to be, but it was an entertaining and interesting movie with two strong lead performances and an interesting premise. Like the critics said, it did have some trouble maintaining a consistent tone, seeing as it …
review by . March 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         The Adjustment Bureau, adapted from Philip K. Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team,” is the most engrossing, intelligent, and stimulating science fiction fable since Knowing, a gem that I personally believe was not given its dues. It takes one of the oldest and most unknowable of humanity’s spiritual quandaries – fate vs. free will – and applies it to a simple but brilliantly executed love story. The result is …
review by . March 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The Adjustment Bureau - The Two Jews On Film Think This One Needs Adjusting
Do we control our destiny or do unseen forces manipulate us? That is the question 'The Adjustment Bureau' asks. The film is based losely on a short story by Philip K. Dick and is directed and written by George Nolfi (co-writer of The Bourne Ultimatium).      Matt Damon plays ambitious New York politician, David Norris. David's just about to become the next Senator from New York, when a photo of him mooning a group of people, is brought to light. David loses the election …
review by . March 11, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The Adjustment Bureau Makes You Really Think
When you say adjustment bureau, you have to ask yourself what do you mean the movie or the actual collection agency. There is an actual agency that goes after the big boys such as banks, auto dealers, finance companies and any other professional types. But, in this case we are talking about taking time out of our busy schedule to go to the matinee to see the movie Called Adjustment Bureau  starring Matt Damon. You know him, he is the star to all of the Borne Identity Movies. He is the perfect …
review by . June 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   The Adjustment Bureau tries to make an analogy regarding today's world policies and differences between the highly corporations and the "average" people or better put regarding today's world "moral" slavery. However, trying does not equal succeeding and therefore we are witnesses to a decent idea managed poorly.      David Norris (Matt Damon) an ambitious young politician chases a seat in the U.S. Senate but due to a small error which …
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #24
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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About this movie


The story is loosely based on the Philip K. Dick short story "Adjustment Team", and features a smooth-talking congressman whose political future is thrown in doubt by uncontrollable events and the arrival of a mysterious ballerina in his life.

Matt Damon plays David Norris, a former Fordham University basketball player and charismatic United States Congressman who seems destined for national political stardom. He meets a beautiful ballet dancer named Elise Sellas, played by Blunt, only to find that strange circumstances keep them from becoming romantically involved. Norris discovers forces are at work to keep them apart, and he peels the layers to find out why. The action takes place in various places in Manhattan.

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Director: George Nolfi
Genre: Romance, Thriller
Release Date: 4 March 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Philip K. Dick, George Nolfi
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