The Adjustment Bureau * * * 1/2
Director: George Nolfi.
Screenplay: George Nolfi.
Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terence Stamp, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Jennifer Ehle, Jon Stewart.
Philip K. Dick was one of the best science fiction writers around with his strong themes of paranoia in plausible and bleak futuristic settings. Unfortunately, very few of his books translate well to the screen. “Blade Runner” and “A Scanner Darkly” are exceptions to this and although this latest may not quite be as good as those, it’s still a decent effort.
On election night, ambitious and driven politician David Norris (Matt Damon) has a chance meeting with dancer Elise (Emily Blunt). Falling in love at first sight, it inspires him to make the speech of his life. Months later, he encounters her again, but mysterious buttoned down businessmen in hats seem determined to keep them apart.
Science Fiction is one of the better genres for exploring popular existential themes; our perception of reality; pre-determination and freewill; our purpose in life, etc. These themes have been laboured over for generations; throughout our art, our storytelling and our philosophizing. Philip K. Dick himself was more of a philosopher who found science fiction as the genre that best suited his ideas and as a result you regularly find these themes coursing through his books. For the most part, first time director George Nolfi handles this material very well. He keeps a steady pace throughout and throws in enough intelligence to force you to constantly use your noodle. The premise is convincing, as is the chemistry between Damon and Blunt, leading the romantic relationship to become the driving force for the story. Everything is in place and the continual chase for answers makes for exciting viewing. However, when it comes to the big reveal, it falters. Despite the highly dramatic buildup, it fizzles out with no more than a few unsatisfying words to explain it’s convoluted plot.
An elaborate and gripping, romantic Sci-fi thriller that boasts fine performances, a quick tempo, style and assured direction. It’s just a shame that the finale is underwhelming.