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The Adjustment Bureau


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#1 of 21 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted February 17 2011 - 04:04 PM

This movie comes out March 4. This evening I attended a free advance screening of held for a local news anchor who cameos as himself in the film. I wanted to highlight it for people who have seen the trailers and maybe weren't sure what to make of it.


Wow, was I surprised. Usually films that get delayed over and over again turn out to be terrible. This one is a marvelous movie, just impossible to market. It takes the central idea from a Philip K. Dick story, that there are shadowy people who manipulate events to ensure predestined outcomes, and expands the scope almost beyond belief.


It is a real science fiction story, with no guns or explosions or violence. There are a couple chase scenes, but they are literally chase scenes: with people, on foot. Nobody's life is in danger. The stakes are far more important than that. Matt Damon is phenomenal as the Brooklyn Congressman aiming to be the next U.S. Senator from the great state of New York. The political details achieve absolute verisimilitude; all of the TV stations are real TV stations, none of the phone numbers are 555 phone numbers. The film was shot on location in New York and feels like it. The film explores questions of free will and destiny, and explores them seriously. The choices are never simple. The dance between science fiction and theology is calibrated perfectly, and the mechanics of this universe are elaborate, but clearly defined and justified. It fully acknowledges the faults and failings of the human species, even as it celebrates the human ability to defy limitations.


The shadowy figures that compose the Adjustment Bureau omnipresent but neither infallible nor unbeatable. Their advantages are accompanied by weaknesses that more or less balance out; they are not blank faces, but characters every bit as developed as the "normal" characters. In a world that is proven to be preordained, their success at any given task is never preordained.John Slattery is a highlight as Richardson, the adjuster assigned to get Damon's Congressman back onto the Plan. He balances the comedic and the dramatic perfectly with a working man's affability as he is increasingly frustrated by the Congressman's efforts to blaze his own trail. Anthony Mackie is phenomenal as Richardson's predecessor on the case, who is seriously second guessing the assigned task. Terence Stamp is bone-chilling as Richardson's successor, who doesn't chase the Congressman but instead presents him with a cruel ultimatum. Emily Blunt manages the impossible, presenting a love interest who could plausibly induce a man to go to war with destiny itself.


This is screenwriter George Nolfi's directorial debut. His only other credits were the subpar screenplay for Timeline, the perfectly mediocre screenplays for Ocean's Twelve and The Sentinel, and the solid screenplay for Bourne Ultimatum. Nothing from any of those movies would have suggested he had a movie like this in him. It's perhaps the most astonishingly confident debut film I've ever seen.



#2 of 21 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted February 17 2011 - 07:53 PM

Thanks for the info Adam.  I saw a trailer during the Super Bowl and it looked interesting.  I don't see many movies in the theater and your comments along with the trailer make me really want to see this one.  I like Matt Damon and am a big Emily Blunt fan.  Here is the full trailer:





Teaser trailer:




#3 of 21 OFFLINE   Sam Favate

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Posted February 17 2011 - 11:47 PM

Thanks for the review, Adam. Been curious about this one for a while, and now will have to make a point to see it.



#4 of 21 OFFLINE   Rhett_Y

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Posted February 28 2011 - 03:14 AM

Thanks for the review.  This was on my see list before I read this review now I can't wait to see it!


Thanks again.


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#5 of 21 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted February 28 2011 - 05:37 AM

You're welcome! I hope it lives up to my hype!Posted Image



#6 of 21 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted March 01 2011 - 12:43 PM

Me too! I was really anxious to see this last fall as I think it was set for Oct. 2010 but got moved back. Looks very interesting and something I would like to see.

Part of me hopes it won't have some weird ending though. :)


#7 of 21 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted March 01 2011 - 05:10 PM

I also think this looks very interesting and want to see it in theaters. The trailers remind me a little of "Dark City."


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#8 of 21 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted March 05 2011 - 03:28 AM

Matt Damon plays David, a youthful Senate candidate for New York, and Emily Blunt, plays Elise, the woman who would inhabit David's personal void after a chance meeting on the night of the election.  The film introduces us to the concept of integral forces out there which undermine personal choice in lieu of guiding humanity through a form of fate policed by the adjustment bureau (AB), which is tasked with keeping things running on schedule and according to plan.


Damon and Blunt have a nice chemistry between, it's believable, and it's the thread that holds the plot line together, even though at a tenuous pace.  There are chase scenes that don't need to happen if a simple bit of Q&A occurred between the principals, but it ramps up the movie's tension and buoys the AB's importance in interjecting themselves into the lives of these 2 people, and ups the stakes at their union in the second half of the film.  Overall, was I surprised by the end, not really, but it was an interesting thought experiment put to film, and it had a good steady pace, with increasing amounts of urgency in the final act.


I give it 3 stars, or a grade of B.



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#9 of 21 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 06 2011 - 06:52 AM

Fairly interesting plot line, but overall, I found

this film to rise just above being mediocre.


I suppose I was looking for something grittier

than a romantic drama.  I have never been a

big Matt Damon fan, but I really enjoyed his

performance here as an up and coming Senate

candidate.

I think this film will be quickly forgotten in the

coming months when (hopefully) bigger and

better fare arrive.


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#10 of 21 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted March 06 2011 - 01:37 PM

Liked it. Kind of wanted a bit more. Maybe I had unrealistic expectations as I remember seeing the first teaser last summer, then it was delayed from an October 2010 release to now? The Adj. Bureau has been my most anticipated movie so far this year.

Like most here so far, an interesting plot and story. Good performances etc...just felt a tad detached from it all. Usually movies like this really draw me in but I felt a little unmoved for a lack of a better word. Still, there was a great deal to like. Thought all the acting was really good and effective as was the direction.

Wouldn't mind seeing it again and perhaps I would care more.

For now, a somewhat generous 8/10Posted Image



#11 of 21 OFFLINE   Chad R

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Posted March 06 2011 - 02:19 PM



Originally Posted by Tim Glover 

Liked it. Kind of wanted a bit more. Maybe I had unrealistic expectations as I remember seeing the first teaser last summer, then it was delayed from an October 2010 release to now? The Adj. Bureau has been my most anticipated movie so far this year.

Like most here so far, an interesting plot and story. Good performances etc...just felt a tad detached from it all. Usually movies like this really draw me in but I felt a little unmoved for a lack of a better word. Still, there was a great deal to like. Thought all the acting was really good and effective as was the direction.

Wouldn't mind seeing it again and perhaps I would care more.

For now, a somewhat generous 8/10Posted Image


Yeah, that was about how I felt about it. Thought it was good, but was just uninvolved in it all. The leads had good chemistry, the dialogue was snappy and the plot (for the most part) worked well enough. I just felt detached from it.


One thing I could pinpoint was the choice near the end of the film where the song "Fever" was played just as Damon "makes a run for it". That was a big choice for him and should have been an emotional nadir, but with a slightly silly song playing it undercut any emotion that had built to that point.


But overall I wanted to like it more than I did.




#12 of 21 OFFLINE   Steve_Tk

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Posted March 07 2011 - 02:13 AM

From an entertainment perspective I enjoyed it.  However, I don't imagine I'll ever see it again until it's on HBO.



#13 of 21 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted March 08 2011 - 04:16 PM

Like Adam G. we don't go to the movies much, maybe 2-3 times a year but I really wanted to see this one. It was a good choice. The movie moves along at a very good pace and what it was really about was a nice surprise. Well the two things it was actually about.
Spoiler
I really liked it and would say 4 out of 5 stars.
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#14 of 21 ONLINE   Brian Dobbs

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Posted March 10 2011 - 05:20 AM

saw this last night.


Eh.


As I watched the movie, I couldn't help but feel like I've seen it all before.  Nothing new here.  Kinda boring.



#15 of 21 OFFLINE   JayMacey

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Posted March 18 2011 - 06:10 PM

I honestly thought this was one of the most ridiculous movies I've ever seen. He meets the girl in the bathroom, has a 3 minute conversation with her & becomes obsessed with her to the point of not caring about the election? Very unbelievable. Then he sees her again on a bus for 3 minutes and then tells his best friend it's the woman of his dreams? Again, very unbelievable. I mean, he literally spent, what, 8 minutes with her total, and he's obsessed with her? It's absolutely laughable.

Then the ridiculous-ness goes on with the Jesus hats and the doors and everything else. Then the stupdity carries on when she talks about how she had never been hurt as bad in her life as she had with him, when they spent what, 3 days together?
The entire thing was so unbelievably ridiculous, that it kept jarring me out of the movie. I literally LOL'ed a few times at some of the more ridiculous things (as well as a few other people in the theater).
VERY VERY disappointed in this one.


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#16 of 21 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted March 19 2011 - 05:07 AM

Originally Posted by JayMacey 

I honestly thought this was one of the most ridiculous movies I've ever seen. He meets the girl in the bathroom, has a 3 minute conversation with her & becomes obsessed with her to the point of not caring about the election? Very unbelievable.


No, he has a several minute conversation with her where she convinces him to be genuine rather than poll-tested. That inspires him to give the speech of his life, which was the whole purpose of the adjusters bringing them together for that moment in the first place.


Then he sees her again on a bus for 3 minutes and then tells his best friend it's the woman of his dreams? Again, very unbelievable. I mean, he literally spent, what, 8 minutes with her total, and he's obsessed with her? It's absolutely laughable.


You've never clicked with someone the first time you've met them? You also have to remember that within the mechanics of this film, love at first sight is very much a real thing. In many previous versions of the Plan, they were to live their lives together. The Chairman designed them to be together. So even though the Plan had changed, they were still designed to fit each other like hand to glove.


Then the ridiculous-ness goes on with the Jesus hats and the doors and everything else.


Posted Image Doesn't this argument basically boil down to scifi/fantasy itself being stupid? The doorways are a way for the Adjusters to keep on top of their targets. The hats are a way for the Chairman to limit the Adjusters' power and keep them from abusing it.


Then the stupdity carries on when she talks about how she had never been hurt as bad in her life as she had with him, when they spent what, 3 days together?


If she fit him like a glove, the same is true in inverse. She'd been waiting years to reconnect with him, and then what happens? He abandons her at a hospital while she's still injured. I can definitely see how that would do some emotional damage.



#17 of 21 OFFLINE   JayMacey

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Posted March 27 2011 - 09:06 AM

I definitely see your points, I just found it completely unbelievable & as I said, some of it jarred me out of the movie so much I LOL'ed in the theater (& felt bad about it). I REALLY REALLY wanted to like this movie. It just didn't work for me.

 

No, he has a several minute conversation with her where she convinces him to be genuine rather than poll-tested. That inspires him to give the speech of his life, which was the whole purpose of the adjusters bringing them together for that moment in the first place.

 

 

You've never clicked with someone the first time you've met them? You also have to remember that within the mechanics of this film, love at first sight is very much a real thing. In many previous versions of the Plan, they were to live their lives together. The Chairman designed them to be together. So even though the Plan had changed, they were still designed to fit each other like hand to glove.

 

 

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#18 of 21 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted March 27 2011 - 11:08 AM

Yeah, I can definitely understand that. I've had movies that other people loved fall completely flat with me too. Sorry you didn't enjoy this one as much as I did.




#19 of 21 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted March 30 2011 - 04:09 PM

Finally saw this today and really enjoyed it. The cast was great and the plot maintained that delicate balance of providing just enough detail to keep up with the story, but also keeping some mystery about the agents (angels?), the Chairman, and the Plan. I especially loved Mr. Thompson's explanation for why they do not simply allow Free Will to dictate events:


We stepped aside once, to see what the human race could do on its own. You gave us the Dark Ages, for 500 years. After a few centuries we tried stepping back again in 1910. You gave us World War I, the Depression, the Holocaust, and brought the world to the brink of annihilation over the Cuban Missile Crisis.


I thought the main point driving the plot was the very fact that David and Elise were so completely and inexplicably drawn to each other even after just meeting briefly. It was the whole "love at first sight" thing and the continued thoughts/feelings for each other that kept confounding the AB's plans for the couple.


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#20 of 21 OFFLINE   benbess

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Posted April 05 2011 - 10:44 AM

Some people love this, some are in the middle, and some hate it. I hated it. It had nothing to do with what makes PKD great in spite of all of his flaws.