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The Adjustment Bureau

A 2011 movie directed by George Nolfi.

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The Adjustment Bureau needs a lot of adjustments in order to not feel as pointless as it feels

  • Jun 17, 2011

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 involves the press exposing some wrongly behavior from his earlier days he loses the elections. On a side-note, we're being introduced to some strange men looking like some sort of secret agents wearing nice suits and old-school hats. They specify they need to bring David on the right track. In the aftermath of that, David meets a young beautiful ballet dancer, Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt). They get really close even after few minutes spent alone in men's room. No, they're not doing kinky stuff they just hang out and Elise kindly flirts with him. While he realizes he's falling for her and that he wants more from their relationship and while she's getting more and more interested in him we get acquainted with the fact that these mysterious agents are actually conspiring to keep them apart. These agents including Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) and Richardson (John Slattery) are working for some sort of Department of Fate. They have small powers and they use a specific fast traveling method using doors as portals where their hats are the keys. If it's necessary they can also stop time and influence someone's conceptions in order to change the choices they will make in the future. They say they work for the good of human kind by controlling the life of their subjects, subjects who are mostly important men that could have the power to influence the world. They do that because they know that humans are still vulnerable to various temptations and they are not yet able to fully comprehend some moral values so they will take the wrong decisions. Okay. So we get that if David stays with Elise he won't get to be future president of United States and Elise won't become what she always dreamed, an internationally ballet star.

David meets these people and he's forced to leave Elise in painful conditions under the threat that if he tells someone about what happened or if the deviates from his path he will practically get lobotomized. So they will erase his whole memory for that? Strange. Hmm... well this is one of the main holes in the plot in my opinion. They have the power to influence someone's decisions, they have the power to erase someone's memory, they have the power to perform small magic or use doors as portals but they can't or don't have the technology to erase just the part where they appear in someone's memory or they can't erase that person from someone's memory? If they can't do that then damn the programmer because he ain't from MIT or Harvard that's for sure. However, chance interferes and after 3 years they meet again. He realizes that he cannot live without her and he's doing the best he can to reunite with her despite all these outside interventions. Thompson (Terence Stamp) is a "ruthless" agent known for solving the most delicate matters quickly and safely so he's sent to "manage" this special relationship between our two lovers. David being unable to do it all alone, we of course get to see one of the agents helping him fight against his own "fate". Good point. They both find themselves at one point in some weird runaway from these agents but end up in a trap. With nothing left to do before they'll both become, mentally some vegetables (remember erasing their memory), they choose to remain alone no matter what. Good now let's see what happens next. Nothing. What? Nothing. Hell No!... Hell yes. Nothing happens. Apparently, all this madness had no point. They could continue their life together in peace because the "Chairman" of this "FATE C.I.A." was impressed with their love and desire to make their own destiny and not be controlled by others. Well... most people will say this was boring because at the end nothing spectacular happened and I might agree I was disappointed in the result of this.

I will say though that the final analogy to today's world where people's lives are controlled by corporations and that they blindly follow what other people dictate them without having guts to fight against the system and provide their own destiny with their own hands was a cool factor to the story I must say it was badly executed. I just wasn't impressed with the delivery of this idea. Too many holes, not so great chemistry between Matt Damon and Emily Blunt and more than all I was annoyed by the bad development of their relationship. We don't really care because we're not invested emotionally with these characters. We're not engaged intellectually with these agents also since they seem so boring, useless, pointless and really laughable at one point since they address such important issues yet they seem so vulnerable. The acting was decent enough for me to not say bad things about it but that isn't saying much as it was pretty stale. Damon did his usual gimmick and Blunt was too bland. Poorly constructed characters... poor execution.

The cinematography was pretty good though. I loved the lightning even though the color palette was badly chosen. Too much grey and too much grain made many shots look boring. It's a weird movie even technically if you're really looking into all aspects of it. The music also seemed unnatural and very out of place in many situations. I expected much more from this but all I got was a definition of blandness and "mehness".

The Adjustment Bureau needs a lot of adjustment in order to make it a good movie, matter of fact the biggest adjustment might be to not make it at all. Here's an idea for these FATE agents: work something in George Nolfi's mind and make him not take decisions like this one in the future and approach more decent, intelligent and exciting projects because this was just an interesting idea that flopped in all areas of filmmaking. But maybe I'm wrong and I need to adjust my eyes.

Storyline/Dialogue: 6/10.
Acting: 6,5/10.
Technical Execution: 6,6
Replay Value: 4/10.
Overall: 6.0

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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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review by . June 25, 2011
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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
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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
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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
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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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