johnlink ranks THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (2011)

Though I haven’t read much Philip K. Dick, I am a fan of many of his movie inspired works. Particularly the films BLADE RUNNER, MINORITY REPORT, and (to a lesser extent) TOTAL RECALL. I found NEXT to be entertaining but not extraordinary, and PAYCHECK to be slightly less entertaining and much less extraordinary. If you are going into a film based on a Dick story you now (or at least hope) that you are in for some heady, noirish sci-fi. I was excited to finally get to THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU.

I watched THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (2011) on 12.28.11. It was my first viewing of the film.

I’m still trying to decide if this is my number one Philip K. Dick translation, or if it that title still goes to Spielberg’s MINORITY REPORT. It is close, either way. I may be leaning MINORITY REPORT for its larger scope, but ADJUSTMENT BUREAU holds a hand in the argument.

This story has Matt Damon as a Senate hopefully who randomly happens upon Emily Blunt the night he loses an election. She changes him, but since they are never to meet again the kiss is one and done. At least, that is how it is supposed to happen. God (or, in this film, The Architect) has a plan, and the Adjustment Bureau is responsible for ensuring that the plan unfolds as it should. When a Bureau member messes up, Damon and Blunt meet again and damage control must be done.

I love the aesthetic of this well costumed film. This is a bright, engaging, charming studio film. And, for some reason, that works. I could see this insted being shot as a modern noir, or an intensely dark thriller. Instead, Damon and Blunt banter their way through their scenes with palpable chemistry, with the Bureau lurking with only a slight sinister tinge in the background. The relationships drives this film forward, making it work in spite of a few flaws.

The ending feels tacked on, though it does not work against the rest of the experience the way the studio imposed ending of BLADE RUNNER did. Instead, the very last scene merely feels like it doesn’t quite fit the momentum of the rest of the film (it was surprising to learn it was shot months later). It prevents the film from being a perfect ’10’ in the entertainment category, but it certainly doesn’t ruin the experience the way it might for some movies (I’m looking at you FRACTURE). Also, their are some logic gaps in how and when the Bureau uses its powers.

Damon is made for roles like this. He is Will Hunting with a Washington pedigree. Smart, fun, maybe a little edge. Emily Blunt plays a perfect foil to him. Again, these two really fuel this high energy picture.

There are pieces of this which remind me of THE TRUMAN SHOW (particularly an early reveal scene) and other pieces which remind me of CITY OF ANGELS (particularly the rain scenes between Damon and a Bureau member played endearingly by Anthony Mackie).

The movie seems to call into question those who believe in ‘God’s plan’, though the studio influenced last moment backs off of this theme (I am itching to know how the original played out). God, in many ways, is seen as almost the unseen villain in this thing. Disallowing free will and stubbornly forcing people to do as he wants in order to ‘save the planet from humans’. It is a very cynical look at religion, if only subtly so. I certainly take no umbrage with that. In fact, the questions were somewhat surprising and refreshing to find in such a crisp Hollywood feature.

I really enjoy the look of this film too. Very different from other similarly themed flicks like DARK CITY, but beautifully realized in its own right. Plenty of long shots of solitary people in open space. Plenty of room for loneliness. I really appreciated it. I’d watch this again in a second.



I loved the pacing of this film. I know that seems an odd thing to give a point for, but the starts and stops were absolutely note perfect.



~ by johnlink00 on December 29, 2011.

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