IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 106 mins
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera
On the brinkof winning a seat in the US senate, ambitious politician David Norris meets Elise Sellas and they fall instantly in love. However, he’s being followed by mysterious men with strange powers who start to alter events so as to to keep them apart. These men are actually the agent of Fate, a company called The Adjustment Bureau. The couple weren’t supposed to meet, so the Adjustment Bureau is doing all it can to separate them, but David is determined to be with Elise no matter what. Will free will really triumph, or will David give into pressure and even blackmail so he can have an easier life and events can be as they were intended?….
The Adjustment Bureau has been advertised with the quote, obviously from somebody who hasn’t actually seen the film, “Bourne meets Inception”, which sounds pretty good if you ask me. The trailer makes it out to be pretty exciting, with lots of shots of Matt Damon running and sinister people chasing him, perhaps more Bourne meets Dark City. Well, I think the filmmakers need to be prosecuted, because this movie is NOTHING like it has been advertised. Now having read a few reviews prior to seeing this including Empire magazine’s own review, I kind of knew that it wasn’t quite what it’s promoted to be. However, I had no idea whatsoever that it would also be a piece of crap. I couldn’t believe that this is based on a Philip K.Dick story, others of which have inspired great movies such as Blade Runner and Total Recall. This is a staggeringly idiotic, ineptly crafted and incredibly lazy film that some people seem to be praising because it’s original. It’s not. It’s four basic ideas – we’re not actually in control of our own destiny [a sci-fi staple], the power of Free Will, the power of love overcoming escalating obstacles, and Doing The Right Thing, rammed together in such a clumsy cackhanded way the film actually resembles several movies sewn together Frankenstein style.
I normally know I’m watching rubbish about twenty minutes into a film, but with this one I’d say it was even sooner than that. David meets Elise in the gent’s loos, and after two minutes of chat they suddenly start snogging. Of course he now thinks he’s met the love of his life, but he’s being watched by the guys of the Adjustment Bureau. Right from the offset, we are shown them following him around in their ’50s-style suits, so there is no build-up or tension. They constantly waffle to each other about how the David/Elise meeting is causing damage to time and space, and sometimes go through doors which can be anywhere and lead to other areas of the city. After lots of this tedium they start to put obstacles in David’s way, and he evades them, but still there is NO TENSION. We start to alternate this crap with the romance, and to be fair thecomes across quite well, it having a naturalistic vibe, with almost a Before Sunrise feel, but the trouble is it seems like it’s from a totally different film. There is NO TENSION. Terence Stamp starts to appear to waffle on about “ripples”; in fact it must have been in his contract to say “ripples” in every other line he says. He has a habit of suddenly turning up in front of David, but still there’s NO TENSION. Then David makes friends with one of the Bureau, who teaches him tricks that they can do, such as going in and out of magic doors really quickly. Of course he’s now better than them at this, because, as one of them says “spontaneity isn’t one of our strong points”, a good example of the atrocious dialogue in this movie.
We finally do get a chase [though there’s still NO TENSION],which involves – guess what – going in and out of magic doors really quickly, and it’s hilarious, partly because all I could think of was Monster’s Inc. Mind you, I often found myself thinking about other things than what was on screen, such as what I should have for dinner tonight, or how maybe a better way of using the tenner I paid to watch this film would have been to give it to a passerby if he would stamp on my head. Then suddenly it’s all over, with lots of “love conquers all “ guff, but to be honest I’ve forgotten what was said, because it was venturing close to some of the unspeakably putrid, mouldy cheese of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. Then again, George Nolfi’s stupid script is dumb throughout, such as when Stamp recounts a potted history of the human race that ignores everything outside of Western Europe and America. The fantasy elements seem ridiculous because of the lumpen way we’re introduced to them – there’s no attempt at surprise or escalation, and of course nothing makes much sense. Then again, the characters don’t do much that makes sense either. There’s a jaw-droppingly dumb bit where David, who abandoned Elise in a hospital bed three years before, turns up at Elise’s wedding asking her to come with him ,and after about ten seconds she DOES! Now all this may have been passable if the general tone of the film was tongue-in-cheek, but it’s actually deadly serious throughout. It’s also so incredibly lazy. Everything seems half-hearted, half-thought through, done with no conviction; as if after a while people realised they were making a bad movie and almost gave up.
This filters down to Matt Damon’s performance. Now I’ve always thought him a bland actor who occasionally somehow finds it within himself to do something really good, as in parts of Hereafter, and he was born to play Bourne, but here he really looks like he’d rather be somewhere else. To be honest though I can feel his pain; whilst watching this movie I often felt I wanted to be somewhere else, like on the toilet. One thing that does lift this movie is rising star Emily Blunt, she’s really natural and I helps that to me she’s also drop dead gorgeous! Out of everyone else only Michael Kelly and Terence Stamp seem to be trying much. The score is the usual monotonous crap that you get in American films at the moment. I will say that the photography is fairly good and that, when the film focuses on the love story, it’s almost reasonable except for that awful scene I mentioned earlier. The trouble is, it’s surrounded by so much utter crap that I found the film a rather painful thing to sit through.