Review: The Adjustment Bureau (Universal Pictures)

Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terence Stamp and Anthony Mackie

Director: George Nolfi

Do you believe in Free Will or Chance? It’s a question Matt Damon as David Norris, a failed politician, struggles with shortly after encountering Elise, as played by Emily Blunt. This one encounter sparks an unsettling meeting with The Adjustment Bureau – a hat wearing collective of chaos chiropractors who align time when someone deviates from The Plan. And as long as Norris stays with Elise, he’s not sticking to this master plan.

Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick (Dick’s daughter Isa Dick Hackett is an executive producer) Bureau is director Nolfi’s (the writer of Oceans 12 and Sentinel) first feature. So far, so good.

The desperate race begins as the star-crossed lovers shortcut through New York City attempting to nourish forbidden love and avoid the Bureau’s wrath. Less science-fiction and more romantic-drama, the movie offers the standard Hollywood truism that love conquers all. And sometimes, even in real life, it does.

Despite peaking behind the curtain, Damon’s a relaxed affable romantic lead while Blunt is luminous, armed with a charismatic infectious allure: she’s worth the risk of crossing the Bureau. Their subtly executed effects merit a trip to the cinema rather than waiting for the DVD or Blu-ray.

Overall the movie is fun and light, jogging at a decent pace with enough obstacles to thwart Norris and Elise, and keep the Bureau busy. While the hats—a pivotal plot point—lend the picture an old school sensibility – something that will keep your mind jumping back to a time when Mad Men-esque attire was the norm.

As for the questions about Free Will and Chance, the movie presents this image:  under the Statue of Liberty Noriss offers his hand to Elise asking for her trust and to come with him. What happens next is clearly not part of the plan.

Sammy Younan