Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image, 106 minutes
Entertaining, affecting “Adjustment Bureau”
Watch out for those men in hats. The twisty new sci-fi thriller “The Adjustment Bureau” may have you thinking twice about the power of those fedoras. Loosely based on a Phillip Dick short story, “The Adjustment Bureau’s” entertaining, fast-paced plot is akin to “The Matrix” and Dick’s own “Minority Report” with some Biblical overtones thrown in for good measure, and while this is a flawed effort, it’s still a thoroughly engaging portrait of free will and human destiny.
Matt Damon is David Norris, a New York City Congressman with a bright future. He gets a glimpse into his own future when he realizes that most, if not all, of his life is being controlled by a powerful, highly-secret and other-worldly organization called The Adjustment Bureau, men who wear dark suits and fedoras and have stealth-like powers to control someone’s fate. He falls in love with a dancer named Elise (Emily Blunt), but this is not according to their plan, and the Bureau (including John Slattery, Anthony Mackie and Terence Stamp) will do all they can to keep David on track.
“The Adjustment Bureau” is a malleable, imperfect thriller, made better by the absorbing performance of Damon, who ably carries the film in nearly every scene. It’s part sci-fi thriller, part love story, as a thriller it works much better than the romantic angles that seem incorporated into the story to draw a female audience. First-time director serviceably handles the material, though a stronger, more experienced director could’ve brought out a few more nuances of Dick’s story, which seems very, very familiar to his own “Minority Report."
Damon’s engaging performance is the best thing about the film, and he’s well-supported by Blunt, “Mad Men’s” Slattery, a warm performance by “The Hurt Locker’s” Mackie and an deliciously evil performance by the always enjoyable British legend Stamp. You have a sense of where the plot will go, and the ending is a bit unsatisfying and even anti-climactic considering how much time is spent getting there.
But Damon and company entertain quite well, and they easily draw you into the story before you can say “time machine.” “The Adjustment Bureau” is worth the effort for sci-fi fans and non-fans alike, just stay with it and watch out for anyone wearing a hat.
Wes’s Grade: B
Wes’s Grade: B