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March 21, 2011 | by  | in Film |
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The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau stars Matt Damon as David Norris, a young renegade politician from New York. After losing the race for the Senate, he is inspired to give a frank and endearing concession speech by free-spirited dancer Elise (Emily Blunt). When chance brings them back together on a bus years later, it seems that the star-crossed lovers are ‘meant to be’.

Enter the titular Bureau. Norris walks in on a bunch of suits and their stormtrooper-like cronies “adjusting” (altering the brains of) his coworkers. Understandably confused by this turn of events, he is informed of the existence of The Adjustment Bureau and how they keep things going to the plan that “The Chairman” (God) has laid out. Unfortunately for Norris, this master plan doesn’t include him and Elise being together.

Unfortunately, this rich premise gives rise to the biggest shortcoming of Bureau; an unwillingness to expand on the philosophically-stimulating ideas suggested and, in turn, a willingness to play it safe with a run-of-the-mill romantic thriller. Instead of developing the idea of free will versus predestination, the movie proceeds in a linear fashion as Norris fights for his true love (yawn).

Bureau’s internal logic is also all over the place. The Bureau’s operations are baffling for a corporation headed by an omniscient and omnipresent entity of debatable existence. The bureau workers travel from place to place via opening a door and coming out a completely different one entirely. While this works well in a Scooby Doo chase sequence, it seems to be an inefficient mode of transport for an organisation requiring complete and utter secrecy, and it works to highlight how utterly arbitrary the rules of their existence are. Oh, and did I mention they need their hats for their powers and carry a notebook which contains a good impression of what it would look like if an Etch-a-Sketch mated with a Spirograph?

The Adjustment Bureau is not a bad movie. Damon’s character is charming and the actor plays him well. Sadly, it doesn’t aim high enough, only achieving mediocrity where mediocrity should not have been on the cards. Exercise the gift of free will and give this one a miss.

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