The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

11 February 2011

Guest review: Srini S. is based in India.

The Adjustment Bureau is light entertainment that combines popular elements from several genres including romance, sci-fi and thriller. Its feel-good approach and its conscious attempt to not push any emotional/cerebral buttons too hard, makes it a safe and marketable film for the producers. It would also be a good film to choose for a group viewing or a casual date, if the aim is to spend time without getting into any serious discussions or disagreements.

To avoid giving away any spoilers, I’ll avoid discussing the plot directly and restrict my comments to other aspects of the film. The basic premise however, which can be gathered even by watching the trailer, is that a group of people control every aspect of the life of a New York senator, David Norris (played by Matt Damon). The central conflict of this film arises due to the sustained efforts of that group to keep David from uniting with a woman (Elise, played by Emily Blunt) he loves.

Matt Damon does his best to keep us engaged in the film and succeeds at it. Emily Blunt looks disinterested half way through the film and the screen chemistry of the lead characters never comes across strongly after an initial promise. There is not much in the film for the other characters to deliver any impact. All the supporting characters do justice to whatever small roles they play.

There are a few choices by the filmmaker that deserve a positive mention. Firstly, the people who work for the bureau are shown as working men who carry out instructions as required by their job responsibilities and not as mindless villains deriving pleasure out of others’ problems. Secondly, the film avoids over-the-top cgi effects, explosions and shootings. An interesting space-tunneling concept that is used repeatedly and a few speeding car sequences in the midst of the busy NY traffic are pretty much what the film resorts to for thrill and they definitely work in its favor. And lastly, the filmmakers don’t try to make it appear more profound than it is, unlike a film like The Matrix.

As I observed in my opening remarks, if you are not looking for a impacting post-viewing experience, The Adjustment Bureau will manage to keep you engaged throughout its duration.