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The Adjustment Bureau

A 2011 movie directed by George Nolfi.

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3 stars: Our choice, our fate is what we make it

  • Mar 25, 2011

Picture your life as perfect as anyone could have ever imagined. You have a great high-ranking job you have subordinates that think the world of you everything is going perfectly   your life could never have been better if someone had planned it yourself. What if someone had planned everything in your life right down to the T; What if what you are meant to do is part of some higher plan to shape the course of coming events to avoid a disaster or to change the flow of history? What would you do if you knew that a group of mysterious men who monitor the whole world are trying to keep order and peace has nudged everything you have ever worked for in your entire life in the right direction? Would you try to change your destiny? Or can your destiny really be altered at all? Can your fate be predetermined to have an outcome that benefits the whole world or would you fight back to change their plan to create your own destiny, to create your own fate to create your destiny not controlled by a higher authority. Would you fight for that? Would you fight for your freedom, fight for you’re the people you love, would you fight for your right of freewill for your right of choice? Would you fight for your fate? 

Director/writer George Nolfi's thought provoking examination of predestination and fate is a film that tries and slightly succeeds on its attempt to show audiences a world where your choices are not yours. And the path you walk in life is predetermined for you from the very beginning by a higher power that has a certain  plan for your life that you have no idea is being put into motion to either avert a massive disaster or to change the natural flow of events. Nolfi(Writer of "Ocean's 12,"The Sentinel"  and co-writer of "The Bourne Ultimatum") blends themes of political intrigue and mind-bending   Science Fiction -via  the world of master Sci-Fi writer  Phillip K. Dick - has the ambition that rivals that of some of the best of Science Fiction's paranoiac tales. But it lacks   the focus needed to really elevate it from good to legendary  instead it kind of meanders it way through its plot  all the while trying to find a smooth pace and a consistent tone. In the end it is able to smooth out its pace  but the tone of this film  seems to be all over the place, like  director Nolfi was trying to hard  to give it the feel of a dark  paranoiac  with very romantic overtones and then  tries to insert the feel of a Sci-Fi chase thriller  coupled with political intrigue. This film juggles all these genre themes without ever settling on one causing this film to have a lukewarm presentation. You feel involved and then you don't  then you do and then you don't, the tonal shifts are this film's  one major weakness  and almost cripple any enjoyment you may try to take away from this beautifully made intelligently  written film. Thanks in part to strong performances from its leads, intelligent dialogue, and a thought-provoking premise that brings up intriguing questions about destiny and fate this film is able to keep its head above the water instead of sinking like a stone. Director George Nolfi may not have the whole directing gig down to a T with "The Adjustment Bureau" he shows more promise than I ever imagined. This film has all the bells and whistles and even though some of those bells may be broken or don't sound as sweet as they should   this film still is able to be music to an intelligent moviegoers ears.

"The Adjustment Bureau" is what I would like to call a morally complex film. This film does not dwell on action and it does not implement an  abundance of special effects  to try and mask the holes in its story or to enhance an otherwise dull film in terms of F/X  this film is rather simplistic  in its storytelling is where is true strength lies. Director/writer George Nolfi  shows immense talent  with  his  ambitious  first film  he shows a flare for the dramatics, an eye for romance  an ear and intelligence for finely written  dialogue  Nolfi displays some very impressive skills in this sometimes murky film. He shows he has the skills to be a strong competent director but he lacks true focus and a sure hand. Nolfi has trouble deciding what he truly wants for this film or where he wants to take it he is not daring enough to put himself out on a limb therefore the film stays in its comfort zone, making this a very enjoyable film. However, seeing the material that inspired it and talent involved it could have been so much more than what it is. "The Adjustment Bureau" is a smart, taunt, romantic, morally emotionally complex film that deals with heavy themes such as fate, destiny, and choice lacing them with heavy romantic and political overtones this film has all the trappings and the pedigree to boot. The only thing that holds it back from greatness is the sheepishness of its director who tries to make a statement but refuses to take the initiative to put him out on a limb. This film is not daring enough for Science Fiction nor is it daring enough for its intriguing story  and premise from  the legendary Phillip K. Dick, Nolfi displays the talent but to be a great director you mustn't be afraid to put yourself out there and challenge yourself. Nolfi challenges the audience now all he needs to do is challenge himself. 

Matt Damon is one of the greatest actor's working in the business today. He has proven repeatedly that no matter what the role he is game. In George Nolfi's   "The Adjustment Bureau" Damon turns in a stirring performance  as Congressman David Norris an  honest, honorable senatorial candidate  living out his childhood  dream, the question is however  is it really his dream or some higher up's plan? Damon plays Norris as a man of principles a man who knows what he wants and seeks to obtain it but some blemishes in his past have recently given him the appearance of having a reckless personality. However, throughout this film you see David as more of a man who fights for what he believes and will stop at nothing to gain the love of the beautiful and extremely feisty Elise (played by the lovely Emily Blunt) the woman who has changed his perception on his dream. Damon is flawless even if the film is not as flawless as he is, he never falters and delivers a stunning performance as a man challenged to fight back against a system that seems to have everything and everyone working for them. Damon is strong, forceful, and honest and determined his character David Norris is a character who many can identify with and understand why he is fighting so hard for his fate for his future for the love of his life no matter what the personal or professional cost. I will not lie when I say that I have a massive crush on Emily Blunt (I mean come on who wouldn't?) she is sassy, funny, witty, and charming. Those are just the characteristics she is displays in some of her best roles, like in "The Young Victoria" and “The Devil wears Prada". Blunt has displayed an almost natural charm and appeal that very few actresses have these days. In some ways I would have to compare her to Katherine Hepburn or the late Elizabeth Taylor, she has that kind of appeal to her. That draw that from the first moment you see her you know that she is the kind of woman that you want to sit down, have a nice cup of coffee with, and just shoot the breeze. That Blunt persona is the kind of infallible charm she brings to the screen and to this very crucial role in this sometimes-murky Science Fiction cautionary tale. The rest of the cast including Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Anthony Ruivivar, Michael Kelly, and Terrence Stamp all turn in fine supporting performances in this excellent if not at sometimes-distant film.

I have seen very few films in this young year, but out of all that I have seen in the last two months George Nolfi's "The Adjustment Bureau" stands out as one of the most original and engaging films, I have seen in a long while. This  may not be a perfect film grant it it does have its flaws but  as an avid Sci-Fi fan and a film aficionado this film proves to be one of the better Science Fiction films I have seen lately, as I said it may not be perfect .. Then again, this film may not need to be as it deals with themes of fate, choice, and predestination. "The Adjustment Bureau is as smart and engaging as films come  but its curious  distance from what it truly needs to say is almost(at times) perplexing but it is never disengaging. This is as good as movie making comes and rarely does filmmaking get this skillful and intelligently done in these days. So why is it that "The Adjustment Bureau" isn't a stronger more daring film, Is it because it's director George Nolfi is not daring enough to put himself out there like Martin Scorsese or Steven Spielberg or  Robert DeNiro(Director of "A Bronx Tale and "The Good Shepherd"), or Christopher Nolan. If he was a little more outgoing in his ideas then maybe, just maybe, this would have been a stronger film, maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part I don't know. For what this film is it  astoundingly well made and well photographed with strong performances from its talented cast and intelligently written  "The Adjustment Bureau" is a better film than you think and quite frankly more satisfying  than you could hope for its perfect spring entertainment for people who are tired so seeing bad Rom-Com or lazy Sci-Fi films. If you want to see a movie that works this is the film to see not just for its story but for its underlining theme of what it means to be in control of your own fate and how sometimes our choice-albeit not always right- can effect our path in life no matter what we do. 

3 stars: Our choice, our fate is what we make it

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March 28, 2011
Another excellent review
March 28, 2011
Thank you very much, I very much appreciate it.
March 25, 2011
sweet review. "morally complex film"---wow! well-said. I liked this one as long as I didn't look at it from a sci-fi point of view. It was good (mostly saved by the performances) but I wasn't satisfied with the ending. Nice review, my friend.
March 25, 2011
Thank you, thank you very much. I liked this film but I felt Nolfi didn't really have a clear view on where he really wanted to go with this story. It is a well made, very well made film and quite frankly one of the first really good films to come out this year I don't know  I just for some reason wasn't digging this film  as much  as I should have. I liked the ending I mean I wish it had been a little more complex and perplexing but it worked from where I saw it, but I can see how it can come off as unsatisfying It makes sense.
More The Adjustment Bureau reviews
review by . March 05, 2011
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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
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review by . July 09, 2011
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*** 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
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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
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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
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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
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The Adjustment Bureau Makes You Really Think
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review by . March 04, 2011
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Avoid this Fate
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU   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 …
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C.R. Lopez ()
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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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