Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Florence Kastriner, Anthony Mackie
Director: George Nolfi
'The Adjustment Bureau' starring Matt Damon is based on the outlandish but undeniably fascinating premise that unknown to us there exists a secret worldwide network that keeps mankind running according to a pre-written plan. An agency of officers that wear fedora hats and carry books with magical maps is supposedly lurking around the corner to ensure that none of us deviate from our pre-determined path.
The idea itself originates from a 1954 short story by legendary science-fiction author Philip K Dick; and the film works despite the occasional speed-bumps in the script because writer-director George Nolfi sets it in the present day, and gives us protagonists who're likeable and not hard to root for.
Damon stars as David Norris, a hotshot New York politician who is instantly smitten when he runs into pretty ballerina Elise, played by Emily Blunt, during a chance encounter in a hotel men's room where he's rehearsing a campaign speech. There's an instant chemistry between them, but she's got to leave.
Clearly he wants to see her again, but it doesn't happen. If you're wondering why they can't find each other living in the same city, it's because someone's making sure they don't. That someone is Harry (played by Anthony Mackie), a "case officer" assigned to David, who must make sure Elise and him never cross paths again. When Harry slips up on the job by accident, David and Elise bump into each other on a bus, three years since their first meeting, and pick up where they left off.
When David and Elise fall hard for each other, the young politico is let in on the secret existence of the 'Bureau'. He's warned not to pursue Elise because it's not part of 'The Plan'; he's threatened that if he does, they'll erase his brain.
Surprisingly simple in its logic, 'The Adjustment Bureau' is no head-scratcher like 'Inception'. There are no layers beneath layers, hence little joy in the process of discovery. Much of the film involves breathless chases across New York as David tries to literally outrun his fate, but the cat-and-mouse pursuit gets tiresome after a while as the men resort to increasingly mundane ways of coming between the couple. The absence of a twist in the end, or even the fact that the stakes never really seem high enough, come in the way of this film emerging as a consistently compelling thriller.
But what keeps the film afloat is the entirely convincing romance between David and Elise. In fact, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt deliver such winning performances, you're even willing to overlook the film's sluggish pace and a bunch of gaping holes in the script.
I'm going with three out of five for 'The Adjustment Bureau'. Don't expect too much by way of thrills, but prepare to be won over by a charming romance.
Rating: 3 / 5
Usha Kumar, New Delhi
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