Considering all the garbage movie critics have to sit through in a year, it’s pretty amazing when a film that’s smarter than most hits theaters and makes a bit of an impact. Independent films are one thing, but major ones released by bigger studios are even a bigger deal when this occurs. I think that’s one of the reasons Inception was so great. Creativity and intelligence are two things that are usually lacking from blockbusters. The Adjustment Bureau is a film that has a bit more to it than you’re probably expecting. Based on “The Adjustment Group,” a short story by Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report), The Adjustment Bureau has probably already caught your attention either because you’re a fan of Dick’s work and/or the movies that were adapted from it.
The film’s charm is definitely in its explanation for things. The way the bureau works and how they function is a wonder in itself. You’ll never look at a door or a man wearing a hat the same way again after viewing the film. Perhaps the most interesting is Thompson’s explanation of how events in history like The Great Depression and The Holocaust came about. The story is very imaginative and different from the norm, which is always a fantastic change in pace when it comes to film. At the same time though, those who like having absolutely everything explained to them will probably be disappointed. The Adjustment Bureau explains enough to get the wheels in your brain turning and leaves some things open to your interpretation, which could hurt someone’s overall opinion of the film depending on the viewer.
I’ve never been the biggest Matt Damon fan. My favorite memory involving him was the Team America parody that he wasn’t even involved with, but I think of that “Matt Damon!” line every time I see him on screen. However, he did have strong showings in both Hereafter and True Grit from last year. He keeps the trend going here. David seems to be a guy who was once fueled by speaking in front of hundreds of people and politics, but has now replaced that void with Elyse. The chemistry he has with Elyse, despite feeling somewhat brief, is one of the driving factors of the film. Anthony Mackie winds up being the most memorable bureau agent mostly because he has an emotional tie to David, but John Slattery and Terence Stamp have some pretty noteworthy performances as well.
I have the impression that a lot of people will write this off as a Men In Black ripoff, but The Adjustment Bureau is a bit more clever than either Men In Black film. The films surely have their similarities, but The Adjustment Bureau deserves to be given a chance. I think it’ll surprise a lot of viewers.
The Adjustment Bureau is easily the smartest live-action film to be released in the first few months of 2011. With a solid cast, a hefty helping of creativity, and just an absorbing experiencing overall, The Adjustment Bureau is bound to leave a lasting impression when it comes time to look back on the best films of the year. The film leaves you questioning how much of your life is really left to fate and chance. Films seem to leave an impression that lasts longer if it makes you think or strikes a cord or hits close to home in some capacity. This film does that and then some. It comes highly recommended even if you have your reservations about it.