Despite initial reservations, about fifteen minutes into this movie I turned to Chris and said, “I am enjoying this movie.”
Half an hour later I whispered to him, “No, I’m really enjoying this movie.”
And by the end, a big happy smile on my face, I declared to everyone within yelling distance: “WHAT A GREAT MOVIE!” and then attacked the poor cinema attendant with my full-force Good Movie Beam and actually, cheesily, thanked him.
The Adjustment Bureau. The Bourne-type posters, with ex-Bourne Matt Damon hanging onto Emily Blunt’s hand as they are mid-run, make you think it’s going to be some sock-em smackdown movie. Instead, it has much less bloodthirsty action than you’d expect and more talking and romance, yet despite that midly depressing description, still manages to be completely entertaining. Damon is David Norris, running for the New York senate, and about to blitz the election with a huge lead. After a picture is leaked of him after an unfortunate mooning incident, he is in a bathroom preparing his losing speech when he discovers a beautiful young ballet dancer, Elise Sellas (Blunt), hiding from security in one of the toilets. One hypercharged conversation later, they are making out on the sinks and thus their relationship begins.
Fate seems to have brought them together, especially when he meets her on a bus again the next day, but in reality fate is a team of guys in hats who do their best to keep the world on the correct path. This is the Adjustment Bureau, who know that Elise and David must be kept apart and do everything in their power to manipulate their relationship. While they sneak mysteriously around in their fancy headgear, freezing time and fixing people’s thoughts, our two heroes want nothing more than each other.
This movie works so well because of Damon and Blunt: their chemistry is stronger than a year eight science lab accident. If you weren’t emotionally invested in their relationship the film would fall completely flat, but right from their first chat you are cheering the two of them on. Damon makes a speech about how his team hired a seven thousand dollar consultant to determine how scuffed a politician’s shoes should be; Blunt dunks his phone in his coffee when it rings too much; they are, honestly, completely hilarious. Their angst at being apart becomes your angst. David’s anger at the Adjustment Bureau is justified and it’s all you can do not to boo them when they appear on-screen with the books they each hold, dictating the future of the world. When one of the Bureau takes pity on the beleaguered couple, you are delighted.
In stark contrast to recent action flick Unknown’s constant fighting, this has a very satisfying lack of danger to the public on the whole, with few car chases and limited strangers getting pushed over and no one getting shot by the bad guys, whose power remains solely in their hats. Not to say it doesn’t have an edge—one particular crash jolted me right out of my mellow complacency—but I have lost a little faith in action movies after Unknown and it was good to see something that still held the excitement level of a thriller without having to watch some pointless carnage. And this is from someone who likes pretend carnage: Machete is still my favourite movie of 2010, and possibly of all time.
With Terrence Stamp grey and ominous as Bureau member Thompson, and rather attractive Anthony Mackie as Bureau turncoat Harry Mitchell—not to mention the cameo appearances by the likes of Jesse Jackson and David’s amusing interview with Jon Stewart—the casting choices round out nicely. The cinematography does the movie wonders, following the characters at pace and making the fun action—the Bureau members can go into a door in one place and careen out of a door on the other side of town—easy to follow and super enjoyable. The only bone I have to pick is with the soundtrack: unnecessary twee in places and invasive in others, it became something noticeable rather than a backdrop to what was really happening on screen. Still, not enough for me to do anything more than note; I won’t be writing a strongly worded letter to director/screenwriter George Nolfi or to the estate of Philip K Dick, whose short story “Adjustment Team” this was based on.
In summary: Exceeds Expectations, is a total blast, and you’ll secretly wish for Damon and Blunt to ditch their respective partners and hook the hell up. It is much better than the other ballet-related flick of 2011 (*cough*BlackSwanwasstupid*cough*). Also, anyone who walks past you wearing a hat will be in immediate danger of getting crash-tackled to the ground with you yelling, “I AM A MASTER OF MY OWN FATE!”
Or that could just be me. Sorry, general public.