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Slick’s Nit-Picks: The Adjustment Bureau

Some people say that fate is a path we all follow that cannot be altered. Then there was a movie that said “there is no fate but what we make.” And then some idiot messed that up with sequels. Some people will say that fate is God’s plan. The same people would have to acknowledge that God gave us free will, so we come back to the whole “fate that we make” concept. Whether or not one believes in a higher power or the concept of fate, we all know that our daily decisions lead us on a specific path and that the wrong decisions can vastly change any plans we have made for ourselves. So here’s the big question: If there is a path set for us, or if we truly can control our fate, how far would you be willing to go to make your own dreams come true?

Their plan, is not his plan.

A chance encounter sets the tone for this entire movie and it winds up being one of the best scenes in the movie just because of how goofy it starts out. Matt Damon plays David Norris, a young upstart politician from Brooklyn who had just lost his bid for U.S. Senator. While preparing his concession speech in a hotel bathroom, he meets Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt, in the same men’s bathroom), an up and coming ballet dancer whose career is on the verge of skyrocketing. Their conversation sparks something in both of them, although initially, only Norris realizes it. The problem that the “Adjustment Bureau” faces is that he is never supposed to see Elise again, but he does. Now David must fight the plan that was laid out for him because he knows what he wants and he refuses to let anything stop him.

This film does not have a huge cast and it doesn’t need one because despite taking place in modern New York City, it centers on two people. Damon and Blunt exhibit an amazing chemistry with one another that sells the film just on their interaction. This is a relatively quiet film with very little of what I would really consider action, yet it is far from boring. Norris encounters many agents of the Bureau during the film, but only three are of note. There is Richardson (John Slattery), the agent initially in charge of cleaning up “the mess,” and Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie), who ends up being the most important of the agents to Norris. Third but not least, we have Thompson, played by the incomparable Terrence Stamp (Superman I&II, Smallville), who very politely winds up being a villain. He doesn’t get angry until the very end of the film and even then he is pretty calm – it’s weird, but it worked. As unbelievable as the story is, the cast sells it to you so well that you leave the theater wondering what you would have done in the situation.

I am not going to spend a lot of time on the visual effects because there really were very few. The movie just did not call for it and had there been any more than the door tricks and the above scene, it would have spoiled the film. It’s really ironic that in this sea of 3D and CGI immersion that is your average movie these days, one of the first “you gotta see this” films of the year is basically devoid of either.

At least once a year I see a movie that I feel I am definitely going to buy when it drops on video and this is going to be one of them. It was well written, well directed and the actors fit their parts. It’s a damn shame that more movies cannot stake those claims these days. If you want all-out action, then this film is not going to do it for you. If you just want to see a good movie, then you probably have already gone to see this film and would likely watch it again in theatres. I guess I am getting tired of every flick being chock full of “mind-numbing action.” Hollywood really is trying to make us stupid so they can pass more of the crap off to us and make it sell. If half of this year’s worth of movies were of the quality of The Adjustment Bureau, then we would not have to deal with all the crappy sequels and remakes and reimagining of storybook tales because we literally would not sit for it. And I am going to end my little rant there and just say go see this movie.