Friday, March 4, 2011

Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau High on Concept, Short on Thrills

Review in a Hurry: Rowdy fratboy-turned-politician David Norris (Matt Damon) accidentally discovers that his life path has been planned out for him from on high, by a bunch of guys in gray suits and hats. Thus begins an intriguing idea, which ironically gets thrown off its own track by an odd balance of tones and the fact that the conspirators are laughably ineffective.
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The Bigger Picture: With his political career seemingly down the tubes following the revelation of an embarrassing prank, David Norris departs to the bathroom in preparation for a concession speech. There he encounters a mysterious dancer named Elise (Emily Blunt), with whom he falls in love at first sight. Alas, she's trespassing, and must run away, but not before inspiring him to deliver the best speech of his life: one of those refreshingly honest speeches that only work in movie-world, wherein the candidate derides his own handlers, clichés, and focus groups in favor of profanity-laced bluntness, thereby becoming the most popular politician in the country.
Some time later (there are a lot of passages of time denoted by onscreen titles in this film), Norris is working for a private firm, and arrives just a teensy bit earlier than he's supposed to, after another chance meeting with Elise changes up his routine. This is when he sees the guys in hats (Illuminati? Angels? The Matrix?) temporarily freezing time and messing with people's heads. They make it abundantly clear to him that he must not speak of this again, and he must never see Elise again. Why? Because there's a master plan at play in the world, and his part in it doesn't involve Elise, or exposing them.
This wouldn't be a problem for most people, considering their plan for him is extremely good. But again this is movie-world, where politicians who tell the truth win elections, and love at first sight is all that could possibly matter. Whoever the guys in gray suits are, we can rule out "studio executives."
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