4 Stars: “The Adjustment Bureau”

From imdb.com:

The affair between a politician and a ballerina is affected by mysterious forces keeping the lovers apart.

———–

I’m a huge fan of Philip K. Dick, the science fiction writer who wrote the short story “Adjustment Team,” which The Adjustment Bureau is based upon. Most of the time, his books and stories get turned into reasonably decent movies (Impostor, Screamers), sometimes into fantastic movies (Blade Runner), and other times into travesties of modern American culture (Next).

This adaptation, directed by George Nolfi,  falls solidly into the ‘decent’ category, edging up to fantastic. Casting Matt Damon is always problematic, because sometimes he can be great (Good Will Hunting, True Grit, The Departed) and other times he can be just okay (all of the Jason Bourne trilogy).

Emily Blunt I’m not as familiar with, but she’s beautiful and oh-so-talented in this movie. And the chemistry between the two of them… Well, let’s just be glad that heat doesn’t translate to the silver screen or we’d all be putting out fires for days.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is at the beginning, when he loses the first election and does the whole “honest politician” thing. It would’ve been very easy for that speech to feel contrived and fake, but it comes off as true, as someone who’s just tired of the game. And that does propel his career, as it should.

The action in the movie is great, with a lot of foot chases, a welcome change from the constant car chases we get in so many movies these days. Not to the level of Keystone Kops, but it is a bit amusing, too. Especially the agents who get exasperated with following Damon’s character Norris through the ‘substrate’, including another of my favorite actors, Mad Men’s John Slattery and Norris’ own ‘guardian angel’, Harry (Anthony Mackie, who was also in the well-done The Hurt Locker).

The sheer determination portrayed by Norris is inspiring to watch. His single-mindedness in pursuing his goal, all the consequences be damned is both that inspiration and a warning at remembering just what you’re giving up.

Terence Stamp is as menacing and creepy as ever (General Zod, anyone?), playing the sort of avenging angel character that is good only in the broadest sense of the word. Other things I liked about the movie were the idea that there were ‘remnants’ of the prior versions of the plan left over. The movie also had a decidedly non-Dickian ending to it, which I would normally be annoyed with but found actually very good. There were a few slow moments, but nothing that would overly annoy me.

I don’t usually comment a lot on the directing of movies, mainly because if the movie is good, then I feel that that speaks to the directing. In this case, I’ll make an exception. Nolfi has, in his directorial debut, shown a gift for this sort of work. Previously, he’s mainly been the screenwriter for several movies, including the Ocean’s movies, also starring Damon. I look forward to seeing more work from him in the future.

The Blu-ray had lots of good features, including a very unusual mini-game that I thought was one of the coolest I’ve ever seen on a DVD. You can select from multiple doors that Norris runs through in one of the scenes of the movies, and each selection takes you to a Google-powered street view of the real location, with a behind-the-scenes video from the production. Also included are the standard Extended/Deleted scenes, as well as a Ticker (like MovieIQ).

Good Quotations:

“I take it you’re not winning.”
“No.”
“Too bad, that other guy’s a tool.”

“We are the people who make things happen according to plan.”
“Oh.”
*run*

“You ruined me; I didn’t want to settle for less.”

“We don’t lead with our emotions like you do, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have them.”

“Or, you could come with me, and I don’t know what’s on the other side, but I know you’d be next to me. And that’s all I’ve wanted since the minute I met you.”

2016-10-26T19:04:28+00:00

Leave A Comment