Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau


Matt Damon has become one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. After sitting through the painful Hereafter in Matt's last leading role, I was hoping the suspenseful romantic thriller The Adjustment Bureau would be a marked improvement.

The premise seemed interesting enough. A state Senator (Damon as "David Norris") randomly finds and falls for a British ballet dancer named Elise (played by Mrs. John Krasinski AKA Emily Blunt) only to have her essentially taken away from him by a group of shady men dressed in suits and bowler hats. The group (conveniently called The Adjustment Bureau) is responsible for making sure everyone on the planet follows a pre-determined plan through life and doesn't deviate from it. When David ends up meeting Elise, a red flag is triggered in the bureau and the rest of the movie centers on David's struggle to get the love of his life back despite the tactics used by the men in suits.

The plot is pretty solid but delves into areas of complete ludicracy towards the end. It also seems that the relationship between David and Elise is forced from the beginning. Damon and Blunt do an admirable job of making the relationship seem as genuine as possible but throughout I just felt that something was off. Perhaps that's the result of having first-time director George Nolfi at the helm. The film's visual effects are pretty standard and the overall ensemble acting by the cast is about average. What Nolfi did manage to convey really well was the experience of a Senatorial campaign. By using mock footage from major news outlets such as CNN and Fox News mixed in with several scenes with Damon and Jon Stewart on the Daily show, Nolfi made the audience really buy into Norris' authentic drive and purpose in running for office.

After the experience that was Inception last year I feel that the bar is just set very high for these types of fantastic sci fi thrillers. The concept of having "agents" watching over us to help ensure we have no free will is intriguing. This movie touches on the thoughts of free well vs fate but never really digs too deep. One strong aspect to the film is that it doesn't slow down much. There are few slow spots in the plot and you will find yourself engaged throughout.
It had been over two months since I last saw a movie in the theater and I was very eager to get my first film of 2011 in the books. The Assignment Bureau is an entertaining slice of original sci fi but it doesn't really do anything very well and didn't blow me away at all. I would recommend waiting for the DVD rental as the visuals and audio are nothing to rush out to the theater to experience. A slightly better than average 3.5 out of 5 JRs for this movie. My next viewing will possibly be Battle: Los Angeles which opens in two days.

Side note: I saw a trailer before T.A.B. for a Simon Pegg comedy called "Paul" about a humorous alien who hangs out with sci fi geeks. The trailer was terrible and I didn't laugh once. Forcing a fake looking CGI ET into a live action comedy is just a bad idea. As a whole, Hollywood has jumped the shark on alien movies (and this is coming from one of the biggest fans of "Alien" entertainment). No more Mars Needs Moms, MegaMind, Planet 51, etc... Let's keep our movie plots on this planet for a while.

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