Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau

Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Slattery
Directed By: George Nolfi
Written By: George Nolfi, from the story by Philip K. Dick
Universal Pictures, 2011
PG-13; 106 minutes
3 stars (out of 5)


I wanted to see this in the theater when it came out but never got the chance. That's okay. It's not some big spectacle movie that benefits from a big screen.

The story is solid, thanks to Philip K. Dick's "The Adjustment Team." The directing is textbook, which is to say it isn't bad and isn't particularly memorable, either. Some of the dialogue, particularly toward the end, is a bit of a groaner. It takes a special kind of actor (Damon) to deliver such lines evenly and sincerely.

In short, The Adjustment Bureau is the story of politician David Norris, played by Damon, whose destiny is to be great . . . Except he has a run-in with a ballerina (Blunt) that throws him off course. And her, too, by default. Meanwhile, the whole "plan" is maintained by pseudo-angelic businessmen in natty suits and hats (which I suppose are stand-ins for halos), including Slattery. When Norris accidentally gets a glimpse inside the mechanism that maps his existence, he becomes determined to change his fate. It seems he can be a great politician or get the girl but not both.

Of course, the movie is designed to be a discussion piece. Free will? Preordained destiny? But The Adjustment Bureau is almost too sweet-tempered to foster any dialogue. There's nothing in it to get fired up about. Which is a shame, because with a little more punch, it would have been a great movie instead of just a good one.

Guess it wasn't meant to be.

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