Saturday, July 2, 2011
Film Journal: The Adjustment Bureau (2011. George Nolfi)
The Adjustment Bureau is a frustrating film. It is a good film that had the potential to be a great film. It's a film that is always engaging and entertaining due to its sci-fi premise and the film's romantic plot gives the film a sense of urgency and tension. It's also helpful that every actor turns in a solid performance and that the film's climatic unique chase sequence is memorable because all of these things combine help hide a lot of the film's flaws.
Matt Damon plays a politician named David who is on the eve of winning an election when he bumps into a ballerina named Elise (Emily Blunt). The pair immediately feel some chemistry going on between them and everything seems like it is going to go well for them until David realizes that members of a secret orginization are going to try their hardest to control their fates and tear them apart.
The film is based on a short story by author Phillip K. Dick, who is best known for writing the source materials for such classic mindbending films as Blade Runner and Total Recall, and the premise of the film is easily its greatest strength. The idea that there is a secret organization who are in charge of controlling everyone's destiny and fate is a fascinating one and the film is at its best when the idea/premise are brought up and explored a bit.
Sadly the who idea of "Are we really in control of our own lives?" isn't explored enough when it really easily could've been. The scenes where David also confronts these agents and starts asking them questions are also filled with clunky exposition and it's annoying to watch a film where a character decides to run circles around a question that he could easily answer in order to give the film a sense of mystery.
The film's biggest flaw though is in its ending. At a certain point in the film you begin to wonder how the film is going to pull off its ending since the film's premise is so "out there" and the way they do it is incredibly weak. The ending is almost a text book example of a screenwriter using a deus ex machina plot device to get himself out of the hole that he buried himself in through out the film. You know it's a bad sign when a film ends with a character explaining the film's conclusion to you and the lead cahracter.
Having sad that, The Adjustment Bureau really is a solid film. The balance between a romantic drama and a science fiction film is well handled and Damon and Blunt's bring a level of charisma and chemistry to their roles that really elevates the film. There is also a certain thing involving doors that can be passageways to other places that is very cool to watch and the film's final moments involving a foot chase while using these doors is a legitimately excellent action sequence. It's just a shame that the film never really truly comes together despite having so many good parts floating around.