DVD Review: The Adjustment Bureau

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Adjustment Bureau stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt and is helmed by first time director George Nolfi. Matt Damon plays a young politician in the running for senator of New York, who has a chance encounter with a woman that turns his world upside down. The two were never supposed to meet and in steps the Adjustment Bureau to try sort things out.

The Adjustment Bureau is a sort of cosmic law enforcement, who keep thing on a pre-determined set path and help nudge things along if they ever stray.

It is based on the short story ‘Adjustment Team’ by Philip K.Dick, though unfortunately it feels as such.

It is an interesting concept but stays at that not really being able to flesh itself out in to a greater idea; it stays in an unexplained limbo, which is in turn explained away but the rationale that there are simply unexplained forces at work from a higher power.

Upon firstly seeing the Adjustment Bureau at work there is an element of intrigue, in so far as to just how far they can go. I don’t believe though that this is ever really put through it’s paces and the set up isn’t as grand as the pay off, regarding just how much of the world they can manipulate, whether this is purely down to budget constraints I’m not sure. The transparency of the Adjustment team is also given away far too easily which caused me to slightly lose interest half way through.

It is based upon a fallacy that the Adjustment Bureau are ineffectual against someone who’s emotions rule over their actions. Though there is a nice comfort in the unflinching conviction of David (Matt Damon) to try find Elise (Emily Blunt), the nature of why they want to be together so strongly never truly feels justified. What lies in the difference of fate and pre-determined nature?

The director never seems able to step outside of what is lain by Philip K. Dick so what we end up with is almost like a series of notes passed on to the viewer from some unknown entity. The latter actually being what we probably find most interesting, but never find out about. The same thing happens when Matt Damon’s character is presented is what should be an antagonising moment which falls flat as there is no basis or consequence to compare to.

The performance of Matt Damon slightly rises above that of Emily Blunt when it comes to the believability of how much he is willing to sacrifice. But the acting on the whole is suitably fitted.

Adjustment Bureau does start off well but never truly questions what it presents and remains a half way house of ideas, topped off by a rather loose ending and too many conceits to ineffectually explain things. Though the concept is original and probably worked well as a short, you can tell it is almost a slice of some greater picture. The ground work for a good film is there but what we end up with is something average.

★★★ | Dexter Kong

Sci-Fi, Romance | USA, 2011 | 12A | DVD | 27th June 2011 (UK) | Universal Pictures | Dir: George Nolfi |  Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, Michael Kelly, Terence Stamp