Stars: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, Terence Stamp
Director: George Nolfi
Do we live by fate or free will? Always a good topic to start a philosophical discussion--and no doubt many are ablazing as we speak, following the opening of The Adjustment Bureau.
A couple in hot monkey love must deal with unrelenting interference from those who disapprove of their union. Sound familiar? But it's not family members who want to break them up. No, look higher...you're getting warm...higher still...THERE YOU GO...it's none other than the BIG GUY! And God--referred to by his operatives, or angels (using the term loosely because one of them likes to shout SONOFABITCH a lot) here on earth as "The Chairman," has an agenda. A Master Plan as it were. The angels' mission is to enforce the plan by placing roadblocks in the couple's path at every turn. Of course, from our lowly vantage point we can't decipher what that plan--or the reason for it--is. We only know that He/She thinks that if promising congressman David Norris (Matt Damon) ends up with talented dancer Elise, (Emily Blunt) it will deal a death blow to both of their lofty ambitions. And when David is made aware of this, he must decide whether to go with his heart and pursue the relationship at all costs, or sadly and reluctantly back off and allow fate to run its course.
Ever have a chance encounter with someone and become instantly taken with them? David and Elise meet in a men's restroom where she is hiding out (don't ask). He is startled to find her there, but after a bit of small talk, they throw themselves at each other and engage in a passionate kiss! They are interrupted and he loses track of her, until one day he runs into her on a bus. She writes down her phone number, but the angels--who all wear business suits and fedoras--kidnap David and steal the number from his wallet and burn it in front of him. This is the kind of stuff they do, because apparently when you take on a human body, you don't have to be nice to people anymore. (And that explains a lot about certain women I dated...but I digress).
Three years pass before David finds Elise again, and when the "Adjustment Bureau" gets wind of it, they go into action to thwart the budding romance again. At some point, the couple have no choice but to go on the run and try to fight the system with the help of angel Harry, (Anthony Mackie) who becomes sympathetic to their plight. Fans of The Graduate will find the buildup to the climax of The Adjustment Bureau to be giddily familiar.
Emily Blunt as Elise is stunning, in ways that transcend mere physical attractiveness, and therefore deftly cast as the kind of woman for whom a man would give up everything.
Matt Damon seems to be at his best when his character is caught up in a web of intrigue and has to use all of his wits and resourcefulness to survive, and he is re-Bourne into a similar identity here.
George Nolfi, co-writer of The Bourne Ultimatum, has caught lightning in a bottle in his directorial debut.
The Adjustment Bureau is one of the freshest, just-go-along-for-the-ride surprises to come along in some time. And it will give you plenty of food for thought if you've ever felt you were absolutely MEANT to be with someone. Wing your way down to the theater and catch it!
Grade: A -