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Matt Damon
Emily Blunt
Anthony Mackie
John Slattery
Terence Stamp
Michael Kelly.
George Nolfi.
George Nolfi.
Running Time
106 minutes

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The Adjustment Bureau
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotted Dick

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Politician David Norris (Matt Damon) meets dancer Elise (Emily Blunt) on election night, forming an instant bond that inspires him to make the speech of his life. Months later, he encounters her again, but mysterious men in hats seem determined to keep them apart.

The Adjustment Bureau
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Once again, a film based on a Philip K. Dick idea bears at most a passing resemblance to its inspiration — but this time it’s because, instead of piling illogic on high concept, Hollywood has transformed his short story into a swoonsome romance. Strangely, that seems to be a better fit. Maybe Dick had a softer centre than we ever knew.

The themes of screenwriter George Nolfi’s first feature film as director will delight philosophers. Does free will exist, or are we travelling along pre-determined paths — and if so, who determines them, and to what extent? Where does chance end and design begin? Can we fight Fate? Luckily for us, Nolfi’s execution will excite everyone else, for this metaphysical love story/thriller manages the very difficult trick of remaining intriguingly intelligent while unfailingly placing entertainment well ahead of explanation.

In other words, the script merrily skips any laboured exposition on exactly who — or what — the ubiquitous shady men in the sharp suits and anachronistic hats are. It positively sprints past any lengthy monologues establishing why they do what they do — and, for that matter, barely lingers on the “what” they’re doing. There’s a suggestion that the Adjusters may be angels, which would certainly explain their Wings Of Desire-esque propensity for standing on rooftops wearing overcoats, and there’s mention of a Chairman with a Plan, but it’s never particularly dissected. All the better, since it’s in establishing the detail that brain-bending thrillers like this tend to fall apart.

Instead, we experience The Adjustment Bureau as does the film’s protagonist David Norris (Matt Damon): as a strange and all-powerful force twisting events to its own ends. That’s not to say that the members of the Bureau are devoid of personality: John Slattery’s Richardson is sardonic and, on some level, grudgingly respectful of Norris; Anthony Mackie’s Harry is openly compassionate; Terence Stamp’s Thompson all business.

This cabal of millinery enthusiasts first attempts to manipulate Norris, and then downright orders him to break off contact with dancer Elise (Emily Blunt). But when pure chance gives him another shot, he very sensibly refuses to give her up. Watching the sparks fly between the charismatic pair, you can hardly blame him; this is one of those pairings where the oft-mentioned but seldom earned Tracy and Hepburn comparisons are merited. Damon plays smart, ambitious, but a little feckless; Blunt is amused, independent and more driven than the usual manic pixie dream girl stereotype that Elise might have become in lesser hands. The dialogue between them fairly crackles, allowing us to overlook the only-in-Hollywood serendipity of their meetings and instant connection.

It’s their intense link that keeps the pace fast and frantic as the difficulties pile on, the film gradually accelerating into a mad dash for the finish line that uses a few simple but remarkably effective special effects to keep you whizzing along with it. Nolfi saves his budget for where it matters; perhaps learning from his writing work on Bourne that knowing where to cut can be just as effective as blowing everything in sight sky-high. Even more miraculously, despite the fact that that’s Matt Damon powering down the street, this never feels like a Bourne wannabe in its action scenes. It’s a testament to how expertly the film builds to its conclusion that only days later do you realise this finale is basically that hoariest of rom-com clichés, the run for love. Maybe that’s because, with all the forces of the universe arrayed against them, you feel that these two actually deserve to make it.

It’s Inception for romantics, a love story told through the medium of science-fiction — or maybe not; it’s hard to peg this by genre. By keeping the pace quick, the explanation light and the characters strong, Nolfi achieves the near-impossible: a film puzzle you won’t mind leaving unexplained.

Reviewed by Helen O'Hara

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Adjustment Bureau, The

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Average user rating for The Adjustment Bureau
Empire Star Rating


Decent effort at an unusual story.2 good leads. Ending,without saying much.....mehhhhh.... ... More

Posted by thetruth at 22:40, 24 August 2011 | Report This Post


Really enjoyed the movie. Great premise and I'm a big Matt Damon fan. He makes it look easy. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by freedom7 at 22:18, 24 August 2011 | Report This Post


How do you make a 'boy-meets-girl' romantic encounter with all the ups and downs that go with that sort of chick-flick tale appeal to someone like me, someone that gags when they try and utter the words romantic comedy or date movie? Simple, add some science fiction. I was really impressed by this, and it exceeded my expectations by quite a bit thanks to the totally convincing chemistry between the two leads - that first encounter in the bathroom had me grinning, GRINNING, because it wa... More

Posted by Vitamin F at 10:51, 24 August 2011 | Report This Post

RE: adjustment B

]Alright my previous reviews were really bad and I have made stupid comments (damn drunkness everything seems like a good idea) this is my crap account i've got another one, but I can't be bothered to remember the password I've forgotten. Alright just because i'm a newbie doesn't mean my reviews aren't as good as any other person's, it just means i've spent less time here. So here it goes. Just had a weekend off, and thought what a great time to watch the movies, haven't seen one in ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by threshold at 05:56, 30 March 2011 | Report This Post

RE: adjustment B

Fate is a funny thing isn't it? Misplacing your keys, walking rather than taking the bus, a chance encounter with somebody and so on and so on can be a bit of a head scratcher sometimes. The idea that even the slightest of incidents (or "adjustments” if you will) can set your day, week; perhaps even your entire life off in a completely different direction to the one you have lived.   Take me for example. I once spectacularly flopped in a recruitment day for a call ce... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 07:57, 29 March 2011 | Report This Post

RE: adjustment B

The Adjustment Bureau, may not be the most engaging title for a movie about one man's battle against the forces of God to be with the one woman he loves, but if watched as a romance, it is a harmless and satisfactory night out at the cinema. Matt Damon is dependable as always but it is Emily Blunt who makes the film, coming across as a free spirited dancer without all that annoying quirkiness that other romantic leads have adopted in recent times. She really helps define the romance of the movi... More

Posted by thepluginbaby at 16:21, 27 March 2011 | Report This Post

RE: adjustment B

here is my take on it...   There are some nice ideas in The Adjustment Bureau, likes of which have been explored in such films as Truman Show and Brazil. Another dimension, an alternative reality and a group of 'beings' that you are never too sure why or what thier ultimate goals are. These are all factors explored in this movie. The film is definately not 'Bourne meets Inception' though as it has been quoted in numerous adverts and on posters. Far from it in fact! poor, misleading a... More

Posted by Roykfrapp at 01:07, 25 March 2011 | Report This Post

RE: adjustment B

It meandered along nicely with pleasant chemistry between the two leads. Emily Blunt was rather stunning and Matt Damon charismatic enough. The plot never really offers anything new and the ending is stunningly predictable although the moment when Matt Damon's character was trying to beat the fate layed at his feet with the use of the hat was the highlight. Overall a watchable and very average film. Expect to forget most of what happened by the time you leave the cinema though. ... More

Posted by sanchia at 00:36, 25 March 2011 | Report This Post

RE: adjustment B

Really enjoyed this, not at all as cheesy as I was expecting it to be even funny in parts. The idea was carried out very well and Damon and Blunt had great chemistry. The ending was a bit of a disappointment but not so much that it ruined the film ... More

Posted by musht at 23:30, 24 March 2011 | Report This Post

Not great. Not great one bit.

Excellent review Dr Lenera - exactly how I felt about it. The logic in this movie is flawed - a lot of what happens is only accepted by the audience as Damon's character is so quick to accept it. Seriously, he accepts the situation so quickly that the next time he bumps into one of them he actually asks if they're angels! Seriously. The first question I'd ask if a bunch of guys from the 'Dark City re-enactment' group started harrassing me wouldn't be, 'are you an angel?' but, 'were those r... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by igotnewlegs at 14:05, 17 March 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Great

ustment Bureau n advertised with the quote, obviously from somebody who hasn't actually seen the film, "b]Inceptionhich sounds pretty good if you ask me.  The trailer makes it out to be pretty exciting, with lots of shots of Matt Damon running and sinister people chasing him, perhaps more bsp; ty. I think the filmmakers need to be prosecuted, because this movie is NOTHING like it has been advertised.  Now having read a few reviews prior to seeing thi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:11, 16 March 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Great

Caught this yesterday with the missus.   This might be a bit spoilery for those that haven't seen it yet.  Be warned.   Bit of an odd one for me.  I had read brief write ups and was intrigued by the snippets I'd seen in ads, plus the whole Philip K Dick background pulled me in.  I knew the whole 'Bourne meets Inception' marketing blurb was bullshit, but for some reason I was expecting a second half with a more sci-fi bent to it.  Obviously after the first ... More

Posted by porntrooper at 15:12, 14 March 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Great

All the talk of the Bourne meets Inception marketing prove one thing; that they have totally midjudged how to pitch this movie. I really liked The Adjustment Bureau - but it cannot be compared to either of the above, it's an unfair comparison as it really should be judged on its own merits. The story is pleasingly simple - boy meets girl and they fall in love but it has a neat fantastical twist in that they were never 'fated' to meet according to the Plan of The Chairman. What follow... More

Posted by Gazdance at 16:09, 10 March 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Could have made a few adjustments

Bourne meets Inception?? No, you see that would actually be a right good film wouldn't it? Imagine Back to the Future meets The Matrix. Still sound good? Of course it does, except I'm talking about Back to the Future 2 meets Matrix Revolutions. Basically the point I'm labouring to make here is that this is a very poor film indeed. While Empire might think doing away with conventional details like ohhhh say plot, explanation or coherence is a radical and intriguing departure from the norm,... More

Posted by clearlinkssteve at 09:21, 10 March 2011 | Report This Post

RE: The Adjustment Bureau

I saw The Adjustment Bureau yesterday, and I have to say that it actually came as a pleasant surprise, exceeding my expectations. It's based on the premise that, in every major respect that effects ours and other peoples' lives, the concept of free will is a myth. The film works on two levels, first as an intelligent, well constructed and suspenseful thriller, and secondly as a romance, fortunately not of the saccharine sweet, schmaltzy type. The chemistry between Matt Damon and Emily Blu... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by siegfried at 19:01, 08 March 2011 | Report This Post

RE: chick flick alert

I went to see this film this afternoon in London I did not know very much about the film, I had seen good / bad reviews in the newspapers and heard it was based on a short story by Phillip K. Dick (The Adjustment Team) It opened with a good pace, and this kept up throughout the film Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and a good supporting cast including Antony Mackie, Terence Stamp and John Slattery as the ominous "Adjustment Bureau" operatives a very interesting idea, and quite well e... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by hampstead bandit at 19:57, 07 March 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Good Film But Misleading Advertising

You know what, I would actually agree with the 4 stars. Very, very good. ... More

Posted by nhassell at 20:10, 06 March 2011 | Report This Post

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