At this point, it seems like it’d be a futile exercise to make a film about fate. I mean c’mon now, everyone saw The Matrix, we get it already. But, The Adjustment Bureau is as clever as its origin – a short story written by the most adapted science fiction author of all time, Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner, A Scanner Darkly) – and as we see the roundabout way the Bureau handles those that defy its plan, we see a more humane take on the eternal question of free will and our ability to choose our destiny.
In the opening montage – a whiplash of election coverage from Michael Bloomberg and Jesse Jackson to an interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show – we’re introduced to David Norris (Matt Damon), a Congressman who’s looking up the ladder to a Senate seat. His controversial past catches up with him at the last minute and as he prepares his concession speech on election night, he has a chance encounter with Elise (Emily Blunt) who had been hiding in the men’s restroom after crashing a wedding. He becomes so impassioned by this mysterious woman that he redoubles his efforts to make another run. Time passes and when an adjuster fails to make his rendezvous with Norris, he accidentally meets Elise again on a bus ride. The situation begins to spiral out of control and the Bureau pulls out all the stops to ensure that the two are pulled apart by any means necessary
The movie spends an elegant amount of time explaining how the Bureau works. Did missing car keys delay your trip to work on some awful morning? That was an adjustment. Did you have an epiphany that changed how you viewed the world? That was a recalibration. All of these are explained as the Bureau’s subtle hand guiding you through the billion choices you make every day. This is a film about Norris being unable to remove Elise from his thoughts for months and years – and the men who will discourage him for reasons even they aren’t privy to. This is the Science Fiction Flick For Dating Couples and Damon and Blunt make a great pair while the sci-fi, much like the special effects, keeps subtle. The pace sags and there aren’t any explosions (plenty of running down empty hallways, though), but if you can look past that, it’ll leave you with plenty to think about.