On the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, ambitious politician David Norris meets beautiful contemporary ballet dancer Elise Sellas —a woman like none he’s ever known. But just as he realizes he’s falling for her, mysterious men conspire to keep the two apart. Do we control our destiny, or do unseen forces manipulate us? David learns he is up against the agents of Fate itself—the men of The Adjustment Bureau—who will do everything in their considerable power to prevent David and Elise from being together. In the face of overwhelming odds, he must either let her go and accept a predetermined path…or risk everything to defy Fate and be with her.
Having worked on several projects in a writing capacity including ‘Ocean’s Twelve’, ‘The Sentinel’, and ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’, George Nolfi brings us his directorial debut with ‘The Adjustment Bureau’, a romantic tale that delves into the concept of free will and fate itself. This film is the latest in a long line of films based on the works of author Philip K. Dick, some notable adaptations of his works have included ‘Minority Report’, ‘Total Recall’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’, and of course ‘Blade Runner’ just to mention a few.
‘The Adjustment Bureau’ is a slowly paced film throughout, however this works to the film’s credit as it takes its time developing the relationships between the characters and the exploration of the different layers within the world being presented to the audience produces an interesting world setting within which the story takes place. The slow-burn nature of the film is even more effective when the pacing does pick up as it heightens the intensity more effectively and stands out as a crucial sequence within the film.
The ideas and concepts being explored by the film circulate around the nature of free will, fate, destiny and illusion and while there is a certain amount of necessary exposition as the rules of the world are presented, in most cases it is done so in a clever manner so that the expositions works within the scene in a natural way rather than being conveyed in a more obvious manner directed straight at the audience.
The performances are sound across the entire cast, Matt Damon is reliable as always, however special mention goes to Emily Blunt whom has proven impressive across several of her roles in the past year or two particularly in this film as well as 2010’s ‘Wild Target’. The strength of the relationship between the two leads achieves some onscreen depth which really adds to the compelling nature of the story.
The latter half of the film doesn’t finish quite as strongly as it starts, the strong characterisation early on tends to plateau as does the development of the larger world in which the film is set. After establishing the more fantastical elements of the story the film does little beyond that, instead simply allowing the story to reach its resolution within the initial parameters which are set.
Overall however ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ manages to take a familiar question, the age old debate about what constitutes free will, is our fate what we make as Sarah Conner would tells us or is this all part of a grand plan that we are just cogs in a machine with no real influence over the ultimate outcome. The film then takes these questions and weaves them into an interesting romance that’s worth your time to take an interest in.
I’m giving this film 3 out of 5 stars, it’s released in cinemas Australia wide on Thursday 3 March 2011.