The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Review by:
Bill Clark

Reviewed by:
On March 3, 2011
Last modified:July 3, 2014


You won't think too deeply about The Adjustment Bureau, but you will respect it as clever and absorbing storytelling.

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

The Adjustment Bureau somehow successfully combines romance, comedy, and science-fiction into an elegantly woven tale of the lengths in which we’ll go to defy Fate to be with the one we love. It may sound heavy, but the film introduces just enough ideas to keep interest and provides just few enough answers to get away with some iffy science. Since no one on Earth has all the answers, I don’t see the issue. It makes for a fun fantasy/adventure with some of the best onscreen chemistry in recent memory, courtesy of Matt Damon and Emily Blunt.

Damon stars as David Norris, an up-and-coming New York politician. As the film opens he has a comfortable double-digit lead on his opponent in a Senate race, but that all changes when some skeletons from his closet are exposed and he loses. On the night of his loss, he meets Elise (Blunt), a beautiful ballet dancer. She gives him her number, and that sets off a series of unusual events, all moderated by the Adjustment Bureau – a shadow government agency that makes sure our individual “plans” never go too far off course. David is not supposed to fall for Emily, but can he overcome the plan and find his true love?

Written by first-time director George Nolfi (and adapted from the short story “Adjustment Team” by the late Philip K. Dick), The Adjustment Bureau is a consistently entertaining ride featuring characters we actually care about. The film has a lot of fun with the way in which the Adjustment Bureau gets its work done, which includes using a series of doors to transport miles in mere seconds around New York City. Given the themes of a set plan for everyone and a “chairman” in charge of the plan, Nolfi somehow doesn’t turn religious and instead keeps the tone light and not buried under the weight of the premise. It’s for the better, as the film never aspires to be a giant answer to all the events in our lives.

Damon and Blunt are as engaging of a screen duo as we’ve seen in quite some time. Funny, charming, and creating a loving couple, the two make each scene sizzle. Fine supporting work is turned in by Anthony Mackie as David’s would-be “angel” and John Slattery (of Mad Men fame) as the head of the Adjustment Bureau.

Successfully mixing a trio of genres, snappy dialogue, and genuine tension, the movie is a satisfying diversion for just about every demographic. You won’t think too deeply about the supernatural possibilities presented in the film, but you will respect them as clever and absorbing storytelling devices. Damon and Blunt truly excel in their respective roles, and George Nolfi is a writer/director to watch in the future. Highly recommended.


Studio: Universal Pictures
Length: 105 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image.
Theatrical Release: March 4, 2011
Directed by: George Nolfi
Written by: George Nolfi. Adapted from the short story “Adjustment Team” by Philip K. Dick.
Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Michael Kelly




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