There is a point somewhere in “The Adjustment Bureau” where the man we follow is forced to choose between two completely different scenarios. He can follow his heart and pursue the woman that he loves or he can abandon all efforts and move on with his life. The latter is the fate that has been prearranged by the Adjustment Bureau, a team of people who decide everybody’s destinies and make sure every event falls in accordance with their arrangements. The problem with the former is that by taking the leap, he will in turn ruin both the woman and his own career aspirations.
This man is politician David Norris (Matt Damon), whose story begins in 2010. He is running a vigorous campaign to become the senator of New York and leads early on in the polls. However, it is one slip-up from college that obliterates his chances around election time. But the one good thing that comes out of his run is Elise (Emily Blunt), a bold woman who he meets with just before he goes to deliver a big speech. They immediately hit it off and she gives him a newfound sense of reassurance. Because of this one brief encounter, he gives a brilliantly honest concession speech that no one in his administration will forget.
That was the only time David and Elise were ever destined to see each other, but as with any system, The Adjustment Bureau has a tendency to slip up once in a while. Because of one small blunder, David bumps into the girl once more on a bus to work, makes some more sensational interplay and this time receives her phone number out of the deal. It may seem like no big deal, but the Bureau immediately takes action by kidnapping him and giving him the rundown about why none of this should have happened and why he can never see the girl again.
It must be noted that David should not even know about the Bureau to begin with. If he is ever to tell anybody about the things he witnessed that day, the group will come to erase his memory permanently. So for three long years (coinciding with the next election period), David lives out his life remembering what could have been. But by chance, he catches Elise once again walking down the streets of New York and immediately acts to catch up with her. But the Adjustment Bureau has a few things up their sleeves to prevent anything serious from happening, but David persistently fights the obstacles head-on.
But what is the deal with all these run-ins? Sure, it may all be an elaborate stroke of luck. Even the Bureau has to admit some things merely happen by chance. But when it is all said and done, does it not seem like both David and Elise are meant to be with one another no matter which way their paths have been arranged?
Immediately from their first encounter, you want these two to end up together. Here are exactly the performances I yearn for from romantic leads. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have instant charm and charisma together onscreen that is absent in an approximated ninety-five percent of romantic comedies released in the past few years. Their conversations come together smoothly and attractively and, for the most part, seem true to life. At any point the narrative might show symptoms of dragging, Damon and Blunt’s chemistry nicely satisfy the vacancies.
As I insinuated before, the film brings up several issues involving fate, predestination, chance, free will, etc. It is also based upon a short story called “The Adjustment Team” by Philip K. Dick, who also provided the source material for “Blade Runner” and “Minority Report.” The guy is great at producing mind-bending metaphysical novels and stories. With these two potential risks at the film’s sides, first time director George Nolfi balances the complexity and profound topics to where it does not come off as preachy and the main story is readily comprehensive and intuitive.
“The Adjustment Bureau” is not quite a great movie, but it is a good one to be sure. The themes and ideas may flow deeper than the physical execution and the ending may leave you wanting something more concrete, but the film successfully creates a fundamentally science fiction-based thriller and merges those thoughts with small intimations of a sweet, light romantic comedy at its core. If only the concept of an Adjustment Bureau were real so they could make adjustments to all the other craptastic movies so far in 2011.