Tuesday Review: The Adjustment Bureau
The Adjustment Bureau 2011 PG-13 106 minutes
First a little background. I love Science Fiction. In my formative years I cleaned out the library and read everything by authors from Isaac Asimov to Roger Zelazny. I still read a boat load of the genre although my taste runs more towards what they call speculative fiction.
The Adjustment Bureau is the latest in a long line of Phillip K Dick’s short stories to be made into a film. It says a lot about the talent of Mr. Dick that his stories have spawned Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers and now The Adjustment Bureau. Dick is an amazing writer and his life Phillip K Dick is even more amazing.
Book to screen is often disappointing to me, especially when it comes to Sci-fi. Directors often have a heavy hand and you see a plethora of Bug Eyed Monsters and not a lot of heart. Alien Versus Predator. The Fifth Element. Signs. I could go on but I won’t.
George Nolfi. Producer, Writer, Director whose credits include: The Bourne Ultimatum (screenplay) 2006 The Sentinel (screenplay) 2004 Ocean’s Twelve (written by) 2003 Timeline (screenplay) 2006 The Sentinel (co-producer) gets it. He has produced a faithful adaptation to the original story and fleshed it out on the screen with finesse.
The actual story is a romance and it follows the rules. Boy meets, loses, gets, loses and ultimately gets the girl.
The hook is why he keeps losing her. Powerful forces are intervening in his life and forcing his hand. Who are these guys in the The Adjustment Bureau? Angels? Devils? Aliens?
Phillip K Dick himself once wrote of these stories. “In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real.”
The prevailing theme you walk away with is that our lives do have a plan, do have a purpose. It’s just not our choice.
Matt Damon plays David Norris, a failure as a politician because he is too young, too wild and too truthful. He meets Emily Blunt playing Elise Sellas in a mens’ bathroom (!) and they fall in love. Then The Adjustment Bureau steps in and the action unfolds.
The first sequence where Damon’s character interacts with, among many, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Jon Stewart, Chuck Scarborough all playing themselves is priceless and amazingly true to form.
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, We Are Marshall, Notorious) plays Harry Mitchell who is the “case worker” assigned to Norris. He is note perfect and immensely likeable in the role.