The Adjustment Bureau - Cinema Review

'even when Nolfi's film dips in the final third, Blunt and Damon are still solidly charming and eminently endearing'

In Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, George Nolfi's The Adjustment Bureau hits solid gold pay dirt almost straight away. Rarely in recent memory have an on-screen couple had such an easy-going, natural chemistry and even when Nolfi's film dips in the final third, Blunt and Damon are still solidly charming and eminently endearing.

Damon and Blunt's chemistry being successful is arguably the most important element to The Adjustment Bureau. Presented as a science-fiction romp (the film is based on a Phillip K. Dick short story), Nolfi's tale is actually much more a forbidden love romance. Prevented by the agents of fate from being together, David (Damon) and Elise (Blunt) battle an anonymous higher power to forge a relationship when all around them seems to want to prevent such a union from occurring. Broken down to its bare bones, the story has been told a thousand times before but in Nolfi's hands, it's seamlessly interwoven with science-fiction, as agent after agent from the shadowy bureau tries to convince David that he shouldn't pursue Elise if he values his future.

More than a straight romance though, Nolfi includes an anthropological element which considers politics and free will. It's significant that David is a politician running for senate. The small choices he makes - considered at length in an early speech detailing the amount David's campaign spends researching how shiny his shoes should be - impacts the small choices we make. In turn, the small choices we make influence his political future. But how much choice do we really have in those decisions? Early backing for David from an entire Union hints that maybe, these decisions are more the product of mass consciousness, rather than of the individual. The film is a carousel of questions and theories and whilst Nolfi doesn't attempt to suggest answers for any of them, his consideration of fatalism alongside topics such as politics adds gravitas to his film and interest during the first and second act, both of which are compelling.

The 'but' comes in the shape of Nolfi's final third. Driven towards an inevitable escape-and-pursuit conclusion, the director abandons all of the subtleties of the film's earlier segments, blundering into action-thriller territory with a nod to the mechanics of an Inception-like, malleable, world and addressing the more obvious themes with near-nauseating directness. Gone are the subtle considerations of fate and destiny, gone are the quiet and intelligent conversations with Anthony Mackie's Harry or Terence Stamp's Thompson; in their place, direct and unreserved allegory. It's by no means awful, but given the good work that had gone on previously it could have been much better and a saccharine and upfront finish to an otherwise cynical and reserved film rings false.

Look further...

'Stamp tells Damon that he never actually had free will – he only had the illusion of free will. Well, in this film, the illusion of intelligent entertainment is all we get' - Film Babble Blog


  1. A surprisingly affecting sci-fi romance, aided immensely by the chemistry between stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. Could have been so much better though, and the run-time makes it all feel a little rushed. Good review, check out mine when you can!

  2. Agree with a lot of Dan, particularly the 'surprisingly affecting' part. Not sure about the run-time though. I actually felt it started to go on a little too long. But yeah, Damon and Blunt are fantastic and it was a pleasure to watch them here.