For painfully obvious reasons, The Adjustment Bureau has been marketed as ‘Bourne meets Inception’, not only is this a rather pathetic attempting at cashing in on the strengths of these already successful films, it is also rather misleading.
The Adjustment Bureau, whilst an enjoyable film in its own right, is certainly not as thrilling nor as intelligent as either of those films. This is not to the film’s detriment, The Adjustment Bureau is a high-concept escapist thriller, largely engaging for the most part, but by no means a classic.
Matt Damon stars as David Norris, an aspiring politician whose thus-far successful election campaign for Senate is derailed with the publication of embarrassing photos of a college reunion prank. On the night of the election, during which David has all but given up, he prepares his speech, resigned to failure. Whilst reciting his speech in the hotel bathroom, he meets Elise (Emily Blunt) whose vivacity and honesty spurs him to give a speech revealing the calculating nature of politicians and campaigns, noting to his supporters that even his tie and shoes have been specifically chosen for the effect they will have on the voters.
Rather than prompt the end of his career, David’s candour earns him new-found respect amongst the public and it is clear that despite any mistakes David may make, he is seemingly destined to make it as a successful politician. David soon learns from an almost omnipresent force of men that his life has a set plan. These men, the so-called Adjustment Bureau of the film’s title, are determined to maintain David’s plan. The feelings that his meeting with Elise has invoked within him are disregarded, Elise is not part of David’s plan; he is told he cannot, and must not embark on a relationship with her.
David is forced to stay away by the Bureau, with them burning the scrap of paper upon which Elise has written her number. With no surname, David’s chances of finding Elise are almost impossible, but that doesn’t stop him from desperately searching. After three years David, simply by chance, meets Elise again. Once he determines not to lose her again, he defies the Bureau and much of the film’s action details the ensuing chase as David and Elise attempt to escape.
Both Damon and Blunt are wonderful, and it is their admirable efforts that help to make the film so enjoyable. The dynamics of their relationship and the manner in which they interact truly feel genuine, the love they feel for one another is entirely convincing.
The film’s central concept, that of fate and free will, is wonderfully compelling and whilst the film is arguably poorly paced at times, with the film’s ending feeling especially rushed, the central romance is beautifully realised. The scenes between David and Elise help to create some of the film’s most enjoyable moments, their discovery and growing understanding of one another drives the narrative. These scenes, alongside some wonderful set-pieces, help to ensure that The Adjustment Bureau is both unashamedly romantic and genuinely thrilling at times.
Oddly paced at times, the film’s ending feels especially rushed, and there is a real feeling that if the film makers had indulged in a little more daring, the film could have been so much better. However, despite these criticisms, The Adjustment Bureau is still certainly a worthwhile watch.