Sunday, March 13, 2011

Movie with Abe: The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau
Directed by George Nolfi
Released March 4, 2011

Philip K. Dick’s science fiction short stories have been the basis for a number of high-profile films, ranging in quality from Steven Spielberg’s superbly futuristic vision of dystopia, “Minority Report,” to the incomprehensible garbage of the Nicolas Cage starrer “Next.” Fortunately, this one falls much closer to the former in terms of quality, enjoyability, and suspense. While it may not be overly complex, it is a simple love story enhanced by a fantasy setup where the characters don’t quite have control over the events in their lives. Their perseverance in the face of inevitability is inspiring, and this is one uplifting, enthralling film.

This movie succeeds largely on its assumption that less is more, choosing not to explain much of its mythology but instead to leave it mostly to the imagination. While some viewers will find that lack of detail frustrating, it ultimately helps to keep the focus on the characters and their motivations and relationships. The presence of the members of the adjustment bureau, ranging from the youthful Harry (Anthony Mackie) to the fast-talking Richardson (John Slattery) to the stern and unforgiving Thompson (Terence Stamp), is ominous but never overly dominant, serving as a shadowy, influential backdrop and not the central point of the plot.

The story follows a young politician, David Norris (Matt Damon), vying for a seat in the New York Senate. His chance encounter and immediate connection with a beautiful woman named Elise (Emily Blunt) leaves him able to think about nothing else, which makes his life even more difficult when he is unable to locate her to pursue a relationship. This is a great role for Damon, where he gets the chance not just to throw punches or run from danger but instead to embody a three-dimensional, somewhat immature character capable of functioning equally well in a romantic drama and an action thriller. Blunt is perfectly seductive and memorable, and the two make for a marvelous pair.

“The Adjustment Bureau” is equal parts strong drama, compelling thriller lite, and enduring love story. On top of that, there’s a bonus in store for New York City residents. The film features much running around the city, jumping from one major locale or area to the next, making it a fun scavenger hunt to recognize where the scene was filmed. That dedication to filming in the city gives the film an air of authenticity aided by the performances of its lead actors. The combination of believable characters and a supernatural love story helps elevates this film to a winning and thoroughly entertaining experience.


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