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The Adjustment Bureau review


George Nolfi's take on a Philip K. Dick short is dazzling for both eye and mind...

'The Adjustment Bureau' (2011)

Having been pushed around the release calendar multiple times, the directorial debut of Bourne writer George Nolfi has arrived, and The Adjustment Bureau doesn’t disappoint. Sci-fi romances aren’t known for blending well; just look at The Time Traveller’s Wife. Yet Nolfi has crafted an exciting, character-driven piece than demands your attention from the off. A super opening montage introduces us to politician David Norris, played with effortless charm by Matt Damon. He’s a New York Senate candidate inspired to give the speech of his life to revitalise his flagging campaign after a chance encounter with a flirtatious dancer, Elise (Emily Blunt). By chance, they meet the next day, but soon afterward, some mysterious men in suits kidnap David. They are the Adjustment Bureau, men who alter the world to make sure that each individual person sticks to their own “plan” for the future. They nicely, then forcefully, demand that David never see Elise again, but he is determined to fight for love.

That description makes the film sound like every other clichéd romance out there, but it’s not; this is intelligent, well made filmmaking at its very finest. Some will pick at certain points (such as the ambiguity that shrouds the film, which may or may not be fully answered) but that’s OK. The whole mystery aspect does the one thing Hollywood films do so rarely these days - it leaves something to the imagination. Others will revel at the dazzling beauty of the film (someone give cinematographer John Toll a medal) and the intricate technical mastery of the piece. This isn’t the actioner that the advertising suggests (it’s more romantic thriller), but when Nolfi uses the budget, he uses it well. The sequences where David and Elise run from the Bureau are breathtaking and nerve jangling, Nolfi perfectly executing the key scenes in the climatic third act.

One of the big draws are Damon and Blunt, who have such brilliant chemistry that you really root for the two characters to prove fate wrong and be together. The two are charming, funny and just so damn brilliant that you’ll be glued to the screen. Good supporting turns from the likes of Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker), John Slattery (Mad Men) and Terence Stamp (Superman, Superman II, Smallville) are also given time to develop and intrigue the viewer as to their mysterious motives. Nolfi’s script is also worth a mention, giving the two characters some wonderful lines of playful dialogue that only helps to give both characters the development they deserve.

Yet the best thing about The Adjustment Bureau is how fun it is. This is clever and adult, but it’s also popcorn entertainment that will thrill the older adults looking for a smart little gem, as well as the thrill seeking teens looking for a well paced, exciting feature. The film never fails to be anything less than enthralling, and I absolutely loved it.

5 stars

See also:

Limitless Review

Source Code movie review


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