The Adjustment Bureau
dir-scr George Nolfi
prd Bill Carraro, Michael Hackett, Chris Moore, George Nolfi
with Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, Terence Stamp, Michael Kelly, John Slattery, Donnie Keshawarz, Jessica Lee Keller, Anthony Ruivivar, Fabrizio Brienza, David Bishins, Jon Stewart
release US/UK 4.Mar.11
11/US Universal 1h46
The Adjustment Bureau
Through the rabbit hole: Damon and Blunt

mackie stamp slattery
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Adjustment Bureau It's impossible to avoid comparing this film to both Inception and The Truman Show, as it delves into the issue of free will from a fantastical perspective. But this is a lighter movie, focussing on romance rather than weighty themes.

David (Damon) is a hotshot Congressman destined for greatness when a past indiscretion derails his Senate campaign. Not to worry: the Adjustors (Slattery and Mackie) will put things back to plan. But in the process there's a blip: David meets Elise (Blunt) and can't get her out of his head. He also discovers the existence of the Bureau, and subverting their plan becomes his goal. So they call in feared Adjustor Thompson (Stamp), and over the next four years the cat-and-mouse game escalates.

Based on a Philip K Dick story, the film can't help but be packed with moral questions, and this is what makes it interesting. At the centre is the battle between fate and choice, as David challenges these shady hat-wearing men for control of his own life. And the theme hits a nerve, even if Nolfi's script reduces things to the simplest story elements, making sure that the film has a breezy touch and plenty of action to keep our pulses racing.

As always, Damon is a terrific everyman, with enough boyish mischief to charm us into believing that he might be the right man to take on this parallel world. His interaction with the terrific Blunt simmers with possibility, and his scenes with both Mackie and Stamp are packed with subtext that's added through finely tuned performances. Nolfi builds on this with subtle directorial decisions and gorgeously textured, shaded camerawork that makes the effects seem almost subliminal.

So it's a bit disappointing that the film merely skins the surface. By the end, we're longing for some meat to chew on, but Nolfi gives us more popcorn, with pacey set pieces, yearning romance and an increasing sense of menace as David risks having his brain reset. Even so, we know how the story has to end, so it's more escapist than challenging. The witty touches and lively action will keep us happy. And they make sure we don't think too much.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 21.Feb.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall