Bob and Justin's Mad Movie Blog

My name is Bob. My friend Justin and I are aspiring filmmakers and we have pretty similar tastes in movies. This will include our take on what's going on in film and television today as well as updating you on the status of our own work.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

It's already mid-March but I just finally got to my first 2011 release. True, I have been a bit busy what with moving house and all, but I think the main reason it took this long is because so little that's come out lately has appealed to me even a little bit. So I apologize in advance if I'm a little rusty but here we go.
The stories of Philip K. Dick have been adapted into films such as "Blade Runner," "Total Recall," and "Minority Report." Films that scream science fiction in every frame. What makes "The Adjustment Bureau" unique is how the world its characters inhabit is recognizable as our own. At least that how it seems on the surface. Certainly nothing seems amiss to New York congressman David Norris (Maaaatt Daaaamon). Very likeable but with a tendency to get himself into trouble, Norris is soundly beaten in his run for senate. Feeling down, out, and unsure of his future, David unexpectedly meets Elise (Emily Blunt), a ballet dancer from Britain. The two instantly connect and David's future becomes brighter just as quickly. Despite not getting a number or even a last name, David is determined to meet Elise again but a whole group of men are just as determined to keep that from happening.
Written and directed by George Nolfi, "The Adjustment Bureau" is terrifically entertaining and just manages to work at virtually every turn. Nolfi witholds information from us just long enough to keep us fully engaged and reveals enough to us at the right moment to keep us from ever feeling confused. This is true not only in terms of plot but in terms of the characters. David and Elise are both as developed as they need to be. We understand who they are, what their motivations are, and why they are drawn to one another. We're not given unnecessary backstory that slows the movie's momentum. Nolfi takes the same approach with the members of the mysterious bureau. Anthony Mackie ("The Hurt Locker"), John Slattery (Roger Sterling!), and Terence Stamp all give great performances as characters whose motivations make sense and just like David and Elise, are as developed as is necessary to the story. Nolfi continually allows us to ask questions and though we don't get answers to every one we may have, the film is fully satisfying because he answers the ones that truly matter.
As far as the lead performances go, Damon doesn't simply re-hash Jason Bourne although at times it seems he's doing just as much running. Seriously, he's become like late '80s Mel Gibson. Directors just like to shoot the man running. This is not a man with brute strength or government training. He is simply a man who will stop at nothing to be with the woman he loves. Blunt meanwhile is her usual outstanding self. Elise is a character who could have either ended up being a drab blank slate or a "manic pixie dream girl," who only seems to exist to give the main character motivation. While Elise does provide that motivation in a huge way, she still has her own life, dreams, and personality.
It may not achieve the classic status of "Blade Runner," but "The Adjustment Bureau" is very smart and constantly fun to watch. You can't ask for more than that in the middle of March. 8.5/10.

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