Tuesday, 22 February 2011


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Matt Damon on the run in New York city is nothing new; that's how he capped off his tenure in the Bourne films. But this time he's being pursued not by agents of the US government but by those of the Lord. Actually, he goes by the moniker of The Chairman, amongst others (Frank Sinatra? Aslan?), and runs his operation like a hands-on public service, albeit far more efficient and far better tailored.

Yes, the Lord would seem to have a penchant for TV's Mad Men; his agents dressed in snazzy suits and not-so-inconspicuous trilby hats. He also has that show's John Slattery as one of his top men, Richardson. It's his, and others', job to make sure the world runs according to a preordained plan, a plan that is jeopardized when Damon's political hot shot, New York congressman David Norris, goes off the map and falls for Elise, a contemporary ballet dancer.

As Elise is played by Brit actress Emily Blunt, you can hardly blame the guy. Norris heeds Richardson's warnings at first – that neither will be happy if they remain together – somewhat compensated by the promise of great things to come should he go it alone. But as Norris would know, no one is getting the keys to the White House without a First Lady; the US voters are not about to elect an unmarried man. They may have gone black in 2008, but they're not about to go 'pink' any time soon.

But what is power without love? Norris decides he can't live without Elise and Heaven, or The Bureau, be damned! Damon and Blunt have a wonderful, easy going chemistry but the silly goings-on around them lessen rather than heighten the impact of an impossible love. I could have done with a lot more of their courtship and a little less of the men in suits and their god-bothering.

I'm not overly familiar with the work of Philip K. Dick, upon whose short story The Adjustment Bureau is based, other than being aware that his work was the basis of Blade Runner, one of the seminal sci-fi films of all time. Fighting fate and destiny, and whether or not our future's are indeed preordained, were at the centre of Minority Report, another Dick adaptation, but there's very little sci accompanying the fi in The Adjustment Bureau.

I don't know if debuting director, George Nolfi, who penned Ocean's 12 and co-penned The Bourne Ultimatum, has changed the elements of Dick's original story, toning down the sci-fi elements and upping the celestial? Either way, it won't be just fans of Philip K. Dick who are disappointed by The Adjustment Bureau. Fans of Matt Damon won't be too pleased either, especially as it comes so soon in the wake of Hereafter. I suggest they go catch True Grit for a second (or third) time.


  1. I think you're reading way too much 'God' into this story. I actually think this is one of my favourite movies in recent years, but i think to enjoy it you need to be able to just let yourself be taken along for the ride.

  2. While I did enjoy it on some level, Stu (namely the romance between Damon and Blunt), it was hard to ignore all the surrounding silliness. And The Chairman is wquite clearly meant to be God. But thanks for the comment, Stu, and keep them coming; I appreciate feedback, even if contrary or even argumentative ;)