More noise than signal

The Adjustment Bureau

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site,

If there’s one thing that’ll immediately raise the stock of any sci-fi-esque movie in this neck of the woods, it’s saying that it’s based on a Philip K. Dick story, however loosely. The Adjustment Bureau takes its inspiration from his short story Adjustment Team, with Matt Damon playing David Norris, a politician we join as he’s failing to get into office in the 2006 elections.

After a chance, fleeting meeting with the free-spirited dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) in a toilet, which isn’t as seedy as it sounds, he’s inspired to can his pre-prepared soundbites and deliver a heartfelt, truth-laden speech that immediately puts him to the front of the race for the next election race. However, he loses contact with Elise.

Turns out that wasn’t entirely his fault, as we’re introduced to the operatives of the Adjustment Bureau and their awesome hats. They’ve been making micro-adjustments to the course of David’s life to ensure that he progresses in accordance with the plans laid out for him, which do not call for a life with Elise. When one of these ‘adjustments’ is botched, Norris walks in on a team changing someone’s mind with their strange powers. Or sufficiently advanced technology. Or something, anyway.

Norris is threatened to either hold his tongue about what he’s seen – and who would believe him anyway? – or be lobotomised. Unsurprisingly, he opts for the former, until a few years later Norris again meets with Elise by chance, prompting a full scale panic in the Bureau to split the lovestruck pair up.

Soon, Terence Stamp shows up playing heaven’s thug on the authority of the mysterious Chairman, saying almost literally that he should tow the line or he’ll start breaking legs. Chafing at this, Norris manages to use some of the Bureau’s powers against them after finding a sympathiser, and heads off to their HQ in search of an explaination.

While President Obama might not have appreciated Matt Damon’s performance, I’ve no bones to pick with it, and there’s a believable chemistry between him and Elimy Blunt. The story makes for thought-provoking viewing, and the pacing is punchy and dynamic.

It even manages to get around my usual automatic hackle-raising as soon as religion is introduced as a reason behind anything by taking a particularly unorthodox view. Here ‘the chairman’ is by no means omnipotent or omniscient. At the very least, I’m pretty sure there’s no part of Christian theology that portrays heaven and angels as, essentially, the offices and staff from Mad Men.

It’s a very entertaining watch and features awesome hats, so therfore gets a seal of recommendation from this scrivvener at the very least.