The Adjustment Bureau opens with David Norris (Matt Damon), a senatorial candidate who is pulling out of a senate race due to a recent scandal. As Norris rehearses his speech in a men’s restroom, a woman, Elise (Emily Blunt), walks out of a stall. Elise tells Norris that he should be more himself during the speech, and that people prefer the truth. Norris goes on to make a widely acclaimed speech after following Elise’s advice.
Norris meets Elise again in a bus and manages to get her phone number before she gets off at her spot. That day Norris arrives to work early to find two men in smart black suits and fedoras examining his paralyzed boss. The men chase him and Norris runs.
Once the men have captured Norris they tell him that they are workers of the Adjustment Bureau, a group that is run by “The Chairman,” who dictates how humanity lives and obliterates our ability to decide. They give Norris an ultimatum, lose Elise and become president or lose his mind.
The story holes become apparent from this point on; an organization that operates by destroying free will gives Norris a choice to make.
The Adjustment Bureau’s biggest problem though is that it is reminiscent of movies that are superior. With the Adjustment Bureau’s dilemma over free will and existentialism it is hard not to compare it to The Matrix or Inception. The script was adopted from American novelist Phillip Kendrid Dick’s short story The Adjustment Team, the following movies: Total Recall, Blade Runner,and Minority Report were also based off of short stories that Dick wrote. As a result the movie is unfairly judged in comparison with these big movies, even though this is director George Nolfi’s foray into directing.
Adjustment Bureau isn’t all that bad though. The acting is superb, with Damon giving a spectacularly believable performance. Nolfi’s brilliance with the cinematography becomes apparent with his smooth transitions, and his decision to use of very formal and controlled filming during shots where the Bureau is in complete control and to the use very shaky recording with hand-held cameras in scenes where Norris defies the establishment.
Norris definitely proves in The Adjustment Bureau that he has great potential as a director, but his script fails as major holes in the premise of the movie materialize. The end of the movie also makes the buildup to the climax almost unnecessary. All in all, The Adjustment Bureau is a great distraction that will entertain for a while, but will not last in your mind.