Friday, 4 March 2011

102: Review - The Adjustment Bureau

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The Adjustment Bureau
04 March 2011. Location: Cinema

Right. Only seen this the once so far. Will definitely need another viewing for formulate full thoughts, but I definitely liked it.

Plot: David Norris (now there's a hero-name), played by Matt Damon, is a U.S. politician with a nicely human-touch running for senator. His chance meetings with Elise (Emily Blunt) bode well for romance, but it appears that a group of mysterious men have other plans. Norris decides he won't be told what to do, and the rabbit-hole goes deeper...

NB: Terence Stamp stars as Terence Stamp. Not a bad thing, just saying.

I didn't realise until the end credits that this was based (apparently loosely) on a Philip K. Dick story (he of Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report). I've never been one for his literary works, finding them dense and hard work, but I do like the stories themselves, and this is no exception. All I knew of this was the trailer, which I'd seen twice, and looked promising. One of the nicer twists, I thought, was that the hat-wearing authority figures in the film have the same propensity for fucking things up while trying to stick to a plan as the rest of us do. Which is kind of the point. If anything, the trailer makes this look a lot more Matrix-y than it actually is. Considering the plot developments and implications, it remains fairly light-hearted throughout.

Any religious references to the origins of The Bureau are kept deliberately ambiguous, which works nicely, giving you enough to think about off your own bat, and not smacking you in the face with it like The Matrix (and I love The Matrix movies). The scripting works well enough, with the possible exception of Norris (Damon) asking agent Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) "why are you different from the others?" Well, given that out of all the Bureau agents we see, Harry is the only black guy, I must admit that my heart froze for a moment, thinking that they were going to give Harry more nefarious reasons for going behind his master's back and helping the heroes. As it turns out, he was just being a decent bloke about it all, but I really did wonder for a moment there. Watch the movie, you'll understand.

On a technical note: For the most part, the cast do a great job, but Matt Damon's turning into the blandest potato in the bag, isn't he? It's not that I dislike him, but if I were to judge his career between this and Hereafter, I'd be forcasting a future of character-roles. He seems capable of more, and since the rest of the movie works well, it feels like he's not trying hard enough.

So, a few rather nice philosophical questions raised regarding free-will and causality, but I won't bother you with my opinions on those (wait until you're in my company and I've got a pint in my hand). As I said above, they're raised in a fairly subtle manner, not beating you over the head with concepts of right and wrong. Well, not until the final shot with Harry's voiceover which is just on the inspirational side of preachy.

Final thoughts: I need to see it again. But it'll only get better.


(This rating may rise with subsequent viewings)

See if you liked: The Matrix, Inception, Dark City, Hancock.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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