The adjustment bureau had an interesting concept to it; something that felt fresh and interesting and that could have been cleverly molded into whatever the director desired.
The movie is about this man named David Norris (played by Matt Damon) who accidently finds out about a group of angels who adjust peoples lives to fit the plan created by the Chairman. (God? Zeus? Odin? Pick your diety) After the shock of finding out about this organization, David Norris is warned to avoid this woman that he had just fallen in love with. David Norris isn’t willing to accept this and goes out against the angels who want to control his fate. This was all taken in the backdrop of David Norris trying to run for the Senate office. The story in and of itself seems great. There certainly were a lot of ways that this movie could have gone. It could have been a bracingly romantic beautiful movie with a cerebral edge, like an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or an intense intellectual thriller like Inception or a movie in which the character has to choose whether his career aspirations or his love is more important such as a Family man. Unfortunately though it didn’t really take any one those directions but instead teetered in the middle. It was good certainly but was it great? Not really And that’s probably the biggest travesty about the whole movie, it was potential that was squandered.
The movies greatest strength was it’s two main characters. Matt Damon who played the main character, David Norris, worked well with his romantic opposite, Emily Blunt’s Elise. There was great chemistry and the romance was truly convincing. However, not enough of time was spent on these romantic parts. It felts like they were certainly in love, but it didn’t really feel like the catastrophically powerful kind of love that could change something as powerful as fate. It felt a little unreasonable for David Norris to take such great risk and have such an obsession over this girl. The audience needed a little bit more convincing then playing around on a bus to illustrate how important this love was. I don’t really blame the actors on this. There simply wasn’t enough time focus on the relationship to make things truly convincing. If there was simply more time spent on the romance, it would of really made the whole story more investing for the viewer and ultimately make the whole rest of the movie more compelling.
The science fiction part of it was also a bit under baked as well. The movie was certainly a bit smart in some aspects; it did raise a couple of deep philosophical questions. Again though, it did not devote the time or effort to really take these questions to a new level. It really could have been a bit more complex and still could have kept the romance. The religious imagery was also a bit intriguing but not really as stimulating as it should have been. In particular I found the use of an angel being called Hammer was a bit humorous, perhaps being in reference to either the gods Thor of Hephaestus, but humorous in the sense that “The Hammer” turned out to be not very intimidating at all. He certainly was the main villain, but yet wasn’t really that bad. You really didn’t have the opportunity to hate him as much as you should have.
In the end, the adjustment bureau really could have been great but it wasn’t. It was good, but just thinking about how great it could have been just kind of makes you like it less. The movie is certainly worth seeing just to see how it fleshed out, but don’t get too excited about it.