Matt Damon is David Norris, a politician who lost an election for the United States Senate. While rehearsing his losing speech in a restroom, he meets a mysterious woman, played by Emily Blunt. It was supposed to be a one-time encounter, but he falls for her. However, their union is not in the Adjustment Bureau’s plans. Who is the Bureau? A group of fedora-wearing men who control the behind-the-scenes of life—think The Matrix but with magical hats (the fedoras allow them to travel through a labyrinth of New York City doors).
If David stays in contact with the mysterious woman it will ruin his life’s preordained blueprint, but he can’t live without her. Can David challenge the Bureau’s plans for him? Will love conquer all? Take a wild, Hollywood-ending guess…
The Adjustment Bureau is labeled as a “romance science-fiction thriller.” This three genres-in-one approach is the first sign that this flick needed some critical adjustments (maybe sticking closer to the short story by Philip K. Dick, which had less of a romance angle).
At first, the film started surprisingly strong. The concept that one decision in one second can change the trajectory of your life was handled interestingly by first-time director George Nolfi. Furthermore, the cinematography in CGI-ed New York was rich and polished. Nonetheless, all of the shine is pointless with a weak story. By the time we reach the second act, The Adjustment Bureau became Sex and the City meets The Butterfly Effect. A potentially fresh and original flick morphed into something dreadfully conventional.
The film also includes Anthony Mackie in a small role as one of the trenchcoated men in the Bureau. There is no character that Mackie can’t play, and although there wasn’t enough depth in this role for him to shine, Hollywood will hopefully sooner than later give him a lead role in a mainstream film.
The film’s vacillation between sci-fi, thriller, and romance ruined it for all audiences. In the end, The Adjustment Bureau stalls as another “love conquers all” dud.
The Adjustment Bureau is in theaters Friday.