Film Review: The Adjustment Bureau's surprising chemistry cements sci-fi romance


Do humans really have free will, or do men in fedoras control our fate? This is the question The Adjustment Bureau presents to its audience.

The premise is one part intriguing and another part ludicrous. While the sheer goofiness of the idea may turn some people off, The Adjustment Bureau is a well-made, well-acted film.

Matt Damon stars as David Norris, a politician campaigning for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Just as he is about to clinch his victory, a scandal causes the tides to turn and Norris suffers a crushing defeat. David meets Elise (Emily Blunt) moments before giving his concession speech. The attraction is instant, and it seems like David and Emily will soon be forever in love.

Their love, unfortunately, is not part of the Adjustment Bureau's plan. David soon learns that everyone has a set destiny, and his does not include Elise. In his heart, he knows that Elise is his soul mate, and so he decides to try to outrun his fate.

The film acts wisely in gradually revealing information about the Bureau. We are never really sure who is in charge or who writes each individual plan; the ambiguity is a major draw into the film.

The movie is not confusing, but the audience is left in the dark as to some of the mythology, and the rules of the Bureau are not clearly spelled out. Some may appreciate the fact that multiple interpretations are possible.

Damon and Blunt's chemistry is what really solidifies the film. While both are accomplished actors in their own right, it is surprising to see them match up so well. The conversations feel very authentic and the romance between the characters is never forced. The film allows their relationship to grow gradually and organically. Blunt is utterly charming, and Damon has an infectious smile. In one scene, David sees Elise dance for the first time, and David's eyes have a subtle gleam to them – it's that look of true love.

The major weakness of the film is its ending. Tensions build steadily, and the movie shows signs of darkness. In the end, though, the audience is surprised by a light and upbeat ending. Happy endings are not a bad thing, but in this case the conclusion doesn't feel appropriate. David risks everything to be with Elise, and a dark or ambiguous ending would have made the movie more interesting and allowed the film to linger in the back of audiences' minds for longer than it does in its current incarnation.

Even with a lackluster ending, The Adjustment Bureau is worth your time. It combines a wonderful romance with science fiction ideology. The consistent pacing makes the film engaging, and the two lead actors are very convincing. Movie fans will certainly enjoy this captivating adventure.