The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

“All I have are the choices I make, and I choose her, come what may.”

Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and Michael Kelly

The Adjustment Bureau

Some say it’s like the lesser version of Inception – I can see where they’re coming from, sort of.

When a rising New York congressman running for State Senate meets an enigmatic and enthralling young lady in a men’s restroom, she inspires him in ways he never thought possible.

Though upon persistence of this relationship he sees one main obstacle standing in his way, a master plan that cannot be messed with, not even by the agents who ensure the world is running the way it’s supposed to.

When David Norris (Matt Damon) unexpectedly walks in on a team of men performing a non-consensual and obviously unheard of mind-altering procedure on his panel of political advisors, he is immediately threatened with having his memory completely wiped if he does not keep what he saw a secret. He comes to learn that the Men in Grey have to make sure people live by ‘The Plan’ and make the right decisions.

This leaves David with his only option being to continue on his path of politics like he was meant to all along. He is also told he mustn’t pursue his relationship with Elise – the girl he met in the men’s room – as it isn’t a part of the plan. However chance sees the two meet on several other occasions, in which these Men in Grey must step in and intervene on a regular basis.

The whole film is a bit unconceivable, though I guess many science fiction films are. First off, The Plan. We are never explained this in the ways in which I hoped. While we are told it is to stop the world having another War, Holocaust or a period like the Dark Ages (which is what happened when the scrapped the plan the last time), I still had no real idea or justification as to why people should have to live by it. It also implies no free will, which I hated. The film suggested that the Men in Grey were like angels, further hinting that it was God who put The Plan together. While this is never directly confirmed, there are always shades of suggestion.

The Men in Grey also have the ability to walk through a door at the top of a skyscraper and end up on a completely different side of New York when they walk out. Funnily enough, it reminded me of Scooby Doo when they’re being chased through the corridors. While some of the tricks and special effects are clever and inspired, the film makes sure to stay true to its character driven storyline.

Matt Damon does a great job as the lead. Possibly the most enthusiastic and passionate role I’ve seen him play opposite a woman – his connection with Elise (Emily Blunt) is completely fathomable, which is just as it needed to be. Blunt also does a great job as the woman with no idea as to what is going on. Simply annoyed by David’s inability to be in a relationship with her, which is through no fault of his own but by the frustrating levels of control that the Men have over their meetings. She’s also a superb dancer which we get to see a bit of.

I did like the whole concept of the ripples. When something in The Plan must be altered, there are ripples affecting everybody else that can be somehow related to the alteration in question. It was a nice touch and something that I wouldn’t have instantly thought of when watching.

The ending of the film felt like a cop out. I hated it. It completely defied the rules that had been stressed upon throughout the film but again, it’s Hollywood’s way of leaving us with that great feeling of success and accomplishment. I suppose in a way it also leaves us with the feeling that we do have free will, but only if we fight for it.

I don’t really like the comparison made with Inception as that was such a stunning film and The Adjustment Bureau doesn’t really compete in my mind. However, there are slight similarities and with Inception being a reference, you might as well give it a watch. It’s a good film, with a good concept and some great lead roles. Give it a go and see if you like it.

Star rating: 7/10

Directed by George Nolfi.

Running time 106 minutes.

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