The Adjustment Bureau: No Amount of Adjustment Can Fix This Terrible Film

The Adjustment Bureau represents everything wrong with Hollywood studio films. It takes an interesting premise and robs it of its potential by removing all logic and forcing in predictable convention where it doesn’t belong. It’s a film in which explanations are never needed but constantly provided, each one more unsatisfying and bewildering than the next. It’s a film in which the Philip K. Dick story is removed in its entirety and replaced with an unconvincing tale of true love at first sight, and though studios try more and more nowadays to put a love story at the heart of science fiction films, it rarely ever works. How did this get a positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes? It’s one of the dumbest, most laughable movies in recent memory.

Mild spoilers will be in the next three paragraphs, and big spoilers in the fourth– be forewarned, though hopefully you read anyway and avoid seeing this film. Matt Damon plays an aspiring senator who is being watched by a strange collection of men who dress like characters from Mad Men, among them Anthony Mackie, Terrence Stamp, and Mad Men’s own John Slattery (will he ever get to wear a tee-shirt in a film?). On the eve of a massive failure of a campaign, he meets Emily Blunt, who is an artsy outspoken rebellious New Yorker girl. He immediately shares a kiss with her, but he doesn’t see her again. Flash forward: Anthony Mackie falls asleep on the job, and Damon finds Blunt again. He’s determined not to miss out on getting to know her this time and gets her number.

He then walks in on the men in hats scanning his friend, having frozen everyone in place. They explain to him everything they do, because he’s “too important” to be lobotomized. They are the Adjustment Bureau, and they keep humanity on a “plan” created by the Chairman. There are blatant allusions to them being angels working for God, but the movie doesn’t get into religion– I hypothesize because even atheists would find religion makes more logical sense than this film. These Bureau workers can move things with their mind and freeze people in place. Damon agrees not to tell anybody (how simple!), and he goes on his merry way… but they make him burn Blunt’s number, because he was never supposed to see her again.

Then, he sees her again, and here’s where the film escalates from dumb to tragic. We discover that the Bureau had a previous plan where they were supposed to be together, but the Chairman changed it, and now other machinations from the previous plan are working to try to put them together– something that resembles Fate to those who don’t believe in the Bureau. Damon would rather flip off the Bureau and keep the girl around. Stamp reveals that if he keeps her, he won’t become President and she won’t become the famous choreographer she was destined to be. He leaves, only to find out nine months later, she’s getting married. Anthony Mackie plays the role of the Magical Negro Who Helps The White Man, and he teaches him, and us, all of the magic of the Bureau.

The magic is… in their hats. If they wear the magic hats, they can use the intricate magical door system. If they don’t, they can’t. Also, water inhibits their powers. This is a classic example of less explanation would have been more, since while I realize they needed to limit the Bureau’s powers somehow, this explanation was beyond stupid. Most stupefying of all, at one moment in the film, Damon asks, “If a Bureau member is following me, can’t I just knock their hat off?” Mackie looks spellbound, and replies, “That’s a great idea!” as if he’s never thought of it before. So the Bureau, which has magical powers and assists people in fulfilling every possible twist and turn in their plan… never once considered that the source of their power might get blown away by the wind and render them useless? REALLY? This is a key example of the film’s complete lack of intelligence– they identify that they need a limitation, but they don’t bother thinking of a smart solution to their problem. The final thirty minutes of the film involves the characters running through doors non-stop, and that’s not an exaggeration. It’s appropriate since it’s a thoughtless ending to a thoughtless film.

Here’s the main problem: why did this film need a love story? There’s a reason why Phillip K. Dick didn’t have a true love that the person who discovers the Bureau fights for… because realistically, if you discover you have a choice between pursuing this girl you’ve only seen twice in your life and getting lobotomized, or letting her go and becoming president… the choice is obvious! Blunt doesn’t really bring anything to the role that shows she’s different than any other artsy outspoken chick in New York City. Damon tries his best, and Mackie has charm for the preposterous character he plays, but there’s really not much to praise in this movie. They took a decent premise and ruined it by adding a love story where it didn’t belong. Between this film and the upcoming Source Code, I wonder where in the world Hollywood got the idea that science fiction needed love at first sight. Has there ever been a good sci-fi film in which the basic premise was rooted in a love story? This is the studios attempting to take a genre that has a predominantly male fan base and make it appealing to women. This isn’t science fiction– it’s vagience fiction. Funny, I think women would prefer a smart film to this patronizing unintelligent crap.

~ by russellhainline on March 23, 2011.

2 Responses to “The Adjustment Bureau: No Amount of Adjustment Can Fix This Terrible Film”

  1. To my truth it is that the movie I get hooked up in a beginning, me parecio a very good idea to take her to the cinema, but ultimately I still have me expensive of idiot. Not entendi since they could cut this way the history, without feet or head.

  2. Great Review. The movie was utter shit. Matt Damon also sucks ass. If it was Tom Cruise instead it might be a bit better. I guess I’m saying that Damon is overrated as an actor and Tom Cruise is underrated as an actor.

    The Bourne movies of course [certainly after the second’s random murder of Franka Potente] are also crap and I’ve read a hell of a lot of Ludlum’s novels and he must be rolling around in his grave. Has the human Matt Damon even lifted a weight, even shot out a sweet side-kick? He’s a punk.

    And despite all of that animosity I’ve liked some movies he’s been in. Not this one. Ohhhhh, not this one for anyone.

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