Do you ever see a movie that is almost really good but ends up being kinda bad? That pretty much describes The Adjustment Bureau. Its a movie that could be a 90% or 50%, but treads the fine line and slips into the rotten category.
The movie follows David Norris (Matt Damon), a potential NY Senator. He meets a beautiful woman and immediately has a strong connection with her. After getting her number, he walks into his office buidling and sees everyone frozen in time while guys who look like film noir characters are using gadgets to put ideas in their head. They abduct Norris and tell him that he stumbled upon something he wasn't supposed to see. They are the Adjustment Bureau. They are men who may or may not be angels and work for the Chairman who may or may not be God. Pretty much, they have guided mankind throughout its creation. They led them from hunter gatherers to the Roman empire and so on. When they left men to free will, WWII, The Holocaust, the Dark Ages, The Cuban Missile Crisis, and other catastrophic events have happened. Conversely, they let the Renaissance and great inventions come to fruition. They ultimately guide everything that happens keeping man from free will except what is due to chance. AND, they tell Norris he is not meant to be with Elise (Emily Blunt) because it isn't part of the plan.
Now while that sounds kinda cool and interesting, it could also be interpreted as too farfetched and stupid. I am goind to quickly describes the men from the adjustment burea: they have to wear hats that allow them to magically turn any door to an entrance to anywhere, they have memo pads that have details of every step and action a person will take, they can't use there powers in the presence of water or rain, they have offices and look like characters from Mad Men, and they drive GMC SUVs for some reason even though they powers to do what they want. Plus, they must have glass jaws cuz they can't even take a punch from Matt Damon. They get assigned cases and pretty much keep people in check and make sure they follow the plans that are set out for them but sometimes those plans change in the memo pads. Have I lost you yet?
Now this movie was based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. Other movies based on his works include Total Recall, Minority Report, and Blade Runner. It is also extremely similar to Dark City. Both movies could either be really dumb or genuinely smart and captivating by others. Dark City made it work, this movie didn't. There is such a fine line between brilliant and original and dumb and ridiculous.
This movie could have been fantastic but it just came off as dull. I'm not a Matt Damon fan. I think he is a decent enough actor and makes mediocre movies, but his character was just too plain. He really didn't seem to be weirded out when these "angels" abducted him and told him how they control the world like a bunch social workers. He stayed a little too humorous without actually being funny. At the skeleton of this story, it is not sci-fi at all but a romance. Basically, it is a disguised chick-flick. Nothing was really surpsising or captured the audience.
The Adjustment Bureau was far too light-hearted for its subject matter and just wan't mature enough to succeed as a serious film. The dialogue and characterization of the Adjustment Bureau agents was just corny. The direction was overall poor. This would be perfect for Christopher Nolan, or even someone like Guillermo Del Toro or Peter Jackson to accomplish such a delicately complex plot. Even David Fincher or Arronofsky might do a good job making it more grungy and deeper. Instead of reaching the heights of movies like Inception, Dark City, or the other films based on Philip K. Dick's stories, it landed in the pile of soon-to- be-forgotten movies. This first-time director was not good at all. The whole issue of free-will vs. Gran Plan was toned down and executed too neatly.
So in the end, The Adjustment Burea was not terrible--but it wasn't good either. It could have been great, it had such potential, but it finsihed as tedious, dull, and chick-flick esque. It is worth checking out though, some people might enjoy the complex and crazy plot, but others will see it as a big cluster f**k. I just think it could have been ten times better to carry it over that fine line of fresh and rotten.