The Adjustment Bureau

This is yet another short story of Philip K Dick’s that got stretched out into something completely different. I came in expecting a sci-fi action thriller and was dumbfounded to discover that’s it’s actually a sci-fi romance.

I was of two minds of this result: on the one hand, the sci-fi aspect made the romance cheesy (“the couple must fight against fate itself!”) but on the other, it was a romance that I actually sat through.

The movie brought up a lot of themes: predestination, free will, control over the future, and the existence of a higher power; however the action/thriller/suspense side of the movie was correspondingly lacklustre. The bureau starts off looking ominous, but becomes more ambiguous, and then non-threatening to the point of being comical; until Stamp appears and dials up the dilemmas, The Adjustment Bureau looks very much like a washout action thriller. Fortunately Stamp does a great job, and Damon and Blunt have a palpable chemistry.

Ironically for all the film’s railing against predestination, the storyline and ultimate outcome is extremely predictable: the main characters’romance is fated at a higher level than within the movie universe. Furthermore while the interactions between Damon and Blunt are cute, I don’t think the movie conveyed a sense of its depth or authenticity: that it was “true love” was mostly taken for granted (to the beeping and blinking of machines that measure such things) in order to move along to the action-packed struggles against mundane miscommunication and bad luck,

The Adjustment Bureau was quite an unusual film, mixing genres that are normally kept apart. It was pleasant to watch and ambitious in theme, but its flaws prevented me taking it as more than genre entertainment.

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