By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
While this may look like another Inception, Brazil, or Dark City to some, it is really another adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story.One of the most prolific and concept-driven sci-fi authors of the last fifty years, his stories have been made into movies including A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Total Recall, and Blade Runner.That’s a pretty good list of films, which is why whenever I hear another of his stories is being made into a film, I’m on board.
His beard makes up for the laziest porn name ever
In The Adjustment Bureau, Matt Damon plays a politician on the rise who has a chance encounter with a woman played by Emily Blunt in a men’s bathroom.This inspires a speech that propels him to the forefront of the New York Senate race.When he tries to find this woman again he finds he is opposed by mysterious forces, led by John Slattery of Mad Men fame.
The movie really gets going when he stumbles upon the mysterious force, the Adjustment Bureau of the title, which spirals into a meditation on free will vs. predestination.Heavy stuff, and I’d expect nothing less from the author.The world he creates is perfect for a sci-fi film, turning present-day New York into an uncanny netherworld where every door can lead somewhere unexpected
What the real strength of this film is, though, is the chemistry between the two leads, Damon and Blunt.When the script starts straying into what the power of love means to the whole free will debate, a lesser acting job by the couple would have sunk the film.They’re utterly convincing, however, which keeps things from reaching Nicholas Sparks levels of saccharine.
The technical aspects of the film are also excellent, particularly the cinematography and framing, which are polished and sometimes stunning.The whole cast does a good job, especially up-and-comer Anthony Mackie who’s starting to get meatier roles.
While I have no doubt that there was a romantic angle to the original story, considering the author’s track record I have a hard time believing it was the main focal point.We still get a decent amount of the high-quality concepts, but too soon a schmaltzy “love conquers all” theme takes over.
When the Adjustment Bureau starts fretting over the two characters having a “real kiss,” which would link them forever; it’s time for a shot.
The third act really ramps up the tension, and as the end closes in you expect some sort of huge epiphany or Romeo and Juliet-style throw-down.
What you get is the most literal deus ex machina possibly ever put on film.And that is what happens when you run out of ideas, folks!
This movie creates a world that raises some very interesting questions and shows you some things you haven’t seen before.While some corniness does sneak in and the payoff isn’t as great as it should be, it’s still well worth your time.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: every time someone goes through a door
Take a drink: every time “The Plan” is mentioned
Drink a shot: whenever somebody mentions a “real kiss”