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Monday, July 25, 2011
The Adjustment Bureau - 2011
It is a shame that a story with so much promise ends up working as badly as this one does, especially with the undeniably deceiving trailers. The Adjustment Bureau is an uncommonly intelligent science fiction film, we all know this, but it does not understand that the trailer presents itself as a thriller, which no one will try and argue that it was one. Sure, with a strong cast, marketing the film as a thriller brought in more money, but it also drastically increased the disapproval numbers. Thankfully, before I first viewed this film a few days ago, nearly every I know had seen it and warned me of the shocking pace, so in the end that did not affect my opinion of the film very much.
Politician David Norris (Matt Damon) is predicted to win the next U.S. Senate race, but when he meets a ballet dancer, Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) in the men's bathroom, his life changes forever. After photos of something that happened in Norris' past leaks out into the world, he loses the race, and Sellas inspires Norris to give an incredible speech. He coincidentally runs into Elise several months later, and they talk for awhile and she gives him her number. Mysterious then men show up to David's office and explain to him that they are in control of time and fate, and that David was never supposed to see Elise again, it was only a mistake. David is told that he can never see or talk to Elise, and the men burn the card that had her number on it. Now he must make a decision, whether or not to let it all go, or attempt to be in control of his own destiny.
Execution. That is the main source of problem in The Adjustment Bureau. Critic Roger Ebert states in his review of the film "'The Adjustment Bureau' is a smart and good movie that could have been a great one if it had a little more daring." Now I don't agree with Ebert as often as some do, but here I think he is spot on. In my opinion his rating of the film is definitely too high, but there is no denying for me that I agree on most points he makes about the film. The Adjustment Bureau is a movie with so much potential, it has a brain, and a very talented cast along with it. So why did it not work very well? Because it never leaves its idea, it never goes far enough to find out if its great. George Nolfi plays everything safe in order to make the film decent and entertaining, which will get a thumbs up from many. But for those of us who realize what it could have been, we are disappointed in the movie, and are left wanting more.
With all of that being said, there really isn't that much to complain about. While George Nolfi clearly had pacing issues with his direction, he did a fairly solid job with the rest of the film, as well as directing the actors, and writing the script. Nolfi's direction doesn't hold the film together too well as a whole, but he does many things right, and shows signs of potential to be a great director in the future. Also, I have yet to hear anyone, critic or regular viewer, say that The Adjustment Bureau was boring. There were obviously plenty of cheesy moments, that is evident from the trailer, but everything concerning the characters of Elise and David are well done. Character devlopment is arguably the most important aspect of filmmaking, and I think all in all Nolfi did a good job with it.
Matt Damon and Emily Blunt were the absolute perfect choice for their roles. As I stated in previous reviews, Matt Damon is an incredible actor, yet never really seems to get the credit he deserves. There is no doubt in my mind that this won't be the case come Oscar time, but if the Academy picked for Best Actor today, I think Damon would get a nomination for his role in this film. Nolfi knew what he was doing when he casted Damon, though I am sure that had something to do with the Bourne films. Emily Blunt would also get a nod if the Oscars were tomorrow, as her performance here is the best that I have seen by her. I don't think she was quite on Damon's level as far as talent goes, but that doesn't stop her from giving it her all in the film. The supporting cast did an excellent job as well, mainly coming from a surprise performance by Anthony Mackie. Of course he was not a big part in the film, but I highly enjoyed it when he was. John Slatterly did a fairly good job as well, and Terrence Stamp was as he always is.
Overall, The Adjustment Bureau is not for the big film buffs around the world. It works as simple entertainment for an evening, even if it is more intelligent than most films. With the strong performances by its two leads and interesting storyline, I can very nearly guarantee that it will keep your mind focused on the movie. But after it is over, and you think about it for awhile, you will realize it should have been so much better than it was.