The Adjustment Bureau – Review
The Adjustment Bureau is a new science fiction film in the mould of Inception, that’s light on the science and heavy on the fiction. It stars Matt Damon as a potential New York Senator with a knack for letting his emotions ruin his chances for success and Emily Blunt as a care free ballet dancer who captivates Mr. Damon. Over the course of several years they inexplicably bump into one another through several bouts of random chance. The problem is that they aren’t supposed to. Their lives are kept separate by a shadowy organisation who call themselves “The Adjustment Bureau”. The Adjustment Bureau are made up of a bunch of middle aged men in hats whose job it is to make sure things go “According to Plan” and they are baffled at how, without even meaning to, the protagonists constantly manage to mess the plan up, and set about keeping these two star crossed lovers apart.
And that’s you’re basic love conquers all plot. It’s a fun and frothy sci-fi adventure with romantic elements, that is a perfectly reasonable way to while away two hours at the cinema. Which is why most people who watch it will be severely disappointed. You see this film is suicidally insistent in it’s presentation. That presentation being Inception. You’ve all seen the posters. The men all dress up like it’s the 1920′s and the special effects all combine to distort the surrounding city scape into something not quite real. But it isn’t Inception. The ideas aren’t as fully explored, the action isn’t as thrilling and the plot points aren’t as engaging.
Now this would be absolutely fine, Inception is not the standard to which action film makers should be held. That would be an unreasonable and unfair ask. But it does become the standard of a film that is desperate that you see it in the light that Inception has cast over the industry. And in doing this it invites all kinds of comparisons which this film cannot hope to live up to.
And that isn’t the only problem. This film is tonally off. The world, the gimmick, the logic; it all feels like this is a feature length episode of Doctor Who with better acting and better production values. This would be fine in a kids film but in a movie which is making pretensions of challenging you with existential concepts, “Magic Hats” feel laughably out of place.
There’s the religious connection too.The film never actually names the person in charge of the Adjustment Bureau, but I would eat my hat if the rest of the time people didn’t just call him God. It presents a world where He has control over our lives and where human beings, left to their own devices, are incapable of looking after themselves without ruining humanity. I always feel slightly uncomfortable with a film that presents Christian concepts as fact. It puts the whole motive of the film into question. And the answer to this question looks to an outsider like, “God knows best”. A horribly propergandaous moral that could be plastered over the notice board of your local Christian recruitment centre. I have no problem with religious readings of films, just not ones that try to convert people or make fools out of Atheists.
The Adjustment Bureau is an OK film. The acting is fine, the chases are exhilarating and everything is ten times better with Emily Blunt on screen (then again, the Libyan War would look better with Emily Blunt in it). The trouble is it makes you want to believe it is so much more. It sets the bar too high for itself and instead of trying to reach it, it deploys diversionary tactics to distract you from it’s shortcomings and failures, none of which work particularly well. It’s fun and it’s fast paced but it’s certainly no Inception.