What do you get when you take The Matrix, Bulworth, and It’s a Wonderful Life and throw them in a blender? George Nolfi’s disappointing directorial debut, The Adjustment Bureau. The latest in a long line of Philip K. Dick adaptations to hit the screen, this romantic sci-fi adventure hodgepodge is evidence of why Hollywood execs are so hesitant to pull the trigger on something that isn’t a sequel.
In The Adjustment Bureau, Matt Damon stars as David Norris, a young New York Congressman on the brink of winning a seat in the Senate. He loses the election due to a silly college transgression that the NY Post runs pictures of the day before. While hiding in what he thinks is an empty bathroom to gather his thoughts before giving his concession speech, he finds Elise (Emily Blunt), hiding in the bathroom from security due to crashing a wedding in the same hotel. They are immediately attracted to each other. After David enters the private sector, they bump into each other on a bus, where Elise gives him her number.
When David walks into his office, he finds his coworkers in a state of suspended animation with people in Hazmat suits waving wands in their faces. David freaks out and starts running. Finally caught, he wakes up to find himself tied to a chair and surrounded by guys in suits and hats. One of them (John Slattery) starts explaining to him that they work for Fate, and everyone’s Fate is already chosen for them. It is in David’s future to be a Senator, then President. The only catch is, he can’t have Elise.
From there the movie drags on like a never-ending game of Mousetrap. Nolfi was the screenwriter for Ocean’s Twelve and The Bourne Ultimatum, so you can understand that he and Damon might be close, but this is the reason why people tell you never to do business with friends. I have to warn everyone, there is a fair bit of artiness in this. If you didn’t like George Clooney’s The American or Solaris, you’re probably not going to fall in love with this film either. While it’s not on the same level as Damon’s work with Gus Van Sant, I imagine it is only because Universal kept dibs on final cut of the movie and made it a little more action packed than your average indie.
Not All Doom And Gloom
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Damon and Blunt definitely have chemistry onscreen, and you buy them as a couple fighting for a chance until the horrible final five minutes of the flick. Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) is given the only supporting role to really hold any weight in the film, as the agent of Fate that has watched over Norris’ family for years and has now grown weary. Hopefully his work in this movie will provide him the opportunity to get roles in better projects in the future.
The biggest chuckle I have had while writing this review is knowing that Universal execs are probably most worried that someone is going to spoil what the “agents of Fate” truly are. I’m not going to. I will tell you that their secret identity is no more reason to see the film than any of the others that I have listed above. Unless you are dragged to this kicking and screaming, avoid at all costs.