I just saw The Adjustment Bureau and these are my (spoiler-free) thoughts.
Highlights of the movie, for me:
- Matt Damon as a politician: that man is so earnest and boy-next-door trustworthy….I’d vote for him. He’s an easy hero to root for and I really feel like making “Matt Damon for Congress” bumper stickers now.
- Emily Blunt”s ballet: I usually can’t stand modern dances, but her movements were liquid and exquisite and so damn beautiful to watch.
- The interaction between the two main characters: it was not a typical romance in the ‘I can predict their every line’ kind of way. Their conversations were quick and took unexpected turns that made them interesting to listen to and witty where the movie could have just been sappy or boring. You only get snippets of their relationship, but I’d have happily watched them interact for the whole time.
- The Adjustment Bureau: uniforms, equipment, and offices. More like a regimented dress code, but put-together men in fedoras and trench coats make me happy. Their Marauder’s-Map style books of people’s futures were fun animation to watch. And, of course, their offices were beautiful and marble in an old-fashioned way that was gorgeous to look at.
If you don’t know what it’s about, there’s the trailer:
The movie itself is a lot less ominous and suspenseful than the trailer seemed. Wikipedia called it a “thriller, sci-fi, action, romance” and if I had to organise those adjectives in terms of what the movie actually contained, it’d be “romance, sci-fi, action, thriller”. It’s more of a boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy fights supernatural forces keeping him and girl apart kind of movie. I didn’t notice the ‘thriller’ aspect of it at all, and I’m normally a wimp about these things.
It’s based on a short story by Philip K. Dick who is a classic science fiction author; although you might not have read his work, you’ve seen his ideas in a million things by now. They might seem old hat to anyone who has watched modern sci-fi, but he was one of the first to write down so many major themes and tropes that we see all the time nowadays. Bladerunner, Total Recall, Minority Report, Paycheck: all canonical sci-fi films, all based on his stories.
I suppose that’s what made the whole movie feel so familiar. The major themes of free will vs determinism, ominous agencies controlling your lives, the fight to reclaim your fate, etc are all things we’ve seen in science fiction and fantasy before. The Adjustment Bureau, however, did it well enough to be an enjoyable, if leisurely, ride.
It had potential that it didn’t quite live up to (I’d have loved to see more about the hatted men’s powers or how they affected the lives of people other than the main characters) but it was still a good movie. I’d consider it a belated Valentine’s Day movie for anyone who can’t stand romcoms or drama, but still wants a “we’re meant to be together” kind of story with minimal cheese.