Friday, March 4, 2011


The Adjustment Bureau

Wouldn't that be creepy if every detail of your life is programmed ahead of time according to a specific design? That is precisely the scenario in George Nolfi's directorial debut: a sci-fi thriller "The Adjustment Bureau" (USA 2011 | 109 min.). However, what actually happens does not seem always to be according to plan, both in the plot and in the movie itself.

David Norris (Matt Damon) is a charismatic rising star in politics who loses in an election for the US Senate. When he practices his concession speech, he meets a gorgeous ballet dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt). He falls for her at the first sight, and wants to meet her again.

Not so, according to The Adjustment Bureau that is in charge of designing a master plan about everything happening in the world, inside a library looking building. The Bureau deploys a group of stiff faced agents, wearing signature hats (because they would not look as cool if they were wearing bracelets), to set David and Elise apart. If the Bureau succeeds, David can come back to the original plan the Bureau has mapped all out for him.

Of course, David is not willing to comply. He and Elise run like crazy from these powerful (at least appearing to be so most of the time) agents. But, if the Bureau is indeed powerful, why does it keep failing on David's execution?

John Slattery and Matt Damon THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU

The film has a fantastic start, with captivating plot development, terrific dialogues, and mysterious characters. Everything seems according to the plan. Then, the film turns into a chaos just as David begins to run off the Bureau's plan. The story becomes incoherent and the characters begin to lose credibility. The later half of the film grows as tiresome as David running up the stairs to a skyscraper—pointless and perplexing.

Early in the film, we see those agents can instantly appear anywhere they want. But later in the film, they run after David and Elise one floor at a time, accompanied by a busy music background. Why can't they just appear in front of David and Elise anymore? Does a film have to have a chasing scene in order to be a thriller.

The truth is, if everything happening is according to a specific master plan, the world will be boring and scary. The only interesting part might be when things go "wrong" and fall off the plan. Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to the film—it falls apart when it does not have a master planned story. Where is the plan when you actually need one?

"The Adjustment Bureau" opens on Friday, March 4, 2011 at Bay Area theaters.

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