Thursday, 10 March 2011

'The Adjustment Bureau' Review

'The Adjustment Bureau' (dir: George Nolfi, 2011), Cert: 12A

If there’s one Science-Fiction author that’s truly helped define its cinematic genre, it’s Philip K. Dick. His tales have brought movie-goers some of the most important and inspirational pictures of the modern era, most notably ‘Blade Runner’ (1982), which was adapted from his book ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ Now in 2011, we are presented with ‘The Adjustment Bureau’, which is adapted from a short story. The picture stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, plus tons of men wearing ridiculous Trilby hats.
 David Norris (Damon) is an eager politician campaigning for the state senate seat for New York City. If elected, he will be the youngest senator in the state’s history. After a batch of embarrassing old stories re-surfaces, Norris’ votes drop dramatically. He is down on his luck until he has a surprise meeting with Elise Sellas (Blunt); a beautiful ballerina who takes his breath away. The pair’s chemistry is immediate, as if they were made for each other. Has fate brought them together, should there paths have ever crossed? Not according to the men of The Adjustment Bureau; a secret organization who are able to control one’s mind in order to keep them on their ‘correct’ life path. The group forbid David to see Elise again but he’s not giving up that easily. The pair knows they have the right of free-will, so they fight for it.
 One of the picture’s posters boldly sports a critic’s quote saying “Its ‘Bourne’ meets ‘Inception’!” Personally I think this gives off the wrong signal about the film. Yes, it certainly has elements of the ‘Bourne’ pictures; the ideas of identity crisis and so forth, but ‘The Adjustment Bureau’s life lives in the fact that it’s an absolute riot and an incredibly fun watch. It doesn’t have the intellectual basis of ‘Inception’ or the gritty exterior of the ‘Bourne’ trilogy; it has playful undertones of Sci-Fi and Action that blossom through an immensely likeable couple and a gripping yet sensitive conspiracy story.
 The film is dotted with humour that provokes more than a handful of laughs, plus in certain dramatic points, it still has its tongue in its cheek. Even during a high-octane chase scene, there’s still time for somebody to lose their hat. The comedy moulds well with the subject matter allowing the picture to flow fluently. Director George Nolfi clearly believed in this project as he also produced and wrote the screenplay, and his passion shows. ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ has a clinical screen presence; everything is placed and portrayed for a reason and its visuals greatly succeed. It also sports marvellous editing that’s so sure-footed and précised; it’s difficult to notice the transitions have even taken place. The cinematography and set design is also very good; the presidential scenes look so natural and the TV spots and appearances from Jon Stewart only add to the film’s sense of realism which is a bizarre thing to say when writing about a picture that couldn’t be further from reality.
Still from 'The Adjustment Bureau' (dir: George Nolfi, 2011)
 The thing that really binds the movie however is Damon and Blunt; their individual performances are fantastic but as a pair they have believable and beautiful chemistry that isn’t sickening or cheesy or any other word which is associated with modern Hollywood romance. They seem more like good friends who happen to be in love rather than soppy and whining lovers who moan about the hurdles that are thrown in front of them. It was really refreshing to see this representation of romance which was portrayed with great skill, engaging emotion and most importantly, authenticity. Have that ‘Twilight’.
 Apart from Damon and Blunt’s stellar performances, other cast members give them too. Anthony Mackie is great as Harry; a member of The Adjustment Bureau who has a softer side than his fellow members, plus Terence Stamp stars as Thompson, one of the organization’s top men and it was great to see him back on the big screen in a well suited role.
 Overall ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ succeeds and then some. I’m sure some will pick holes in it, but realistically, this is the best new release out at the moment and I’m sure the majority will be as thrilled, entertained and excited by it, just like I was. This is definitely one of my favourite films of the year so far for multiple reasons, but the main one being how much fun it was and how much fun I had watching it.

Utterly joyous and wonderful cinema. Its no ‘Inception’ but it never intended or tried to be. Great performances, brilliant storytelling and above all, tons of fun.
By Chris Haydon

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