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DVD Review: ‘The Adjustment Bureau’

★★☆☆☆

I‘m a fan of Matt Damon. I admire his politics, his talent and his wit. He is always good value in interviews and seems to genuinely enjoy his craft. Because I’m so keen on the man, I will even give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that the original script for the The Adjustment Bureau (2011) was a work of sublime genius.

That he chose to take on the role of US Senate hopeful David Norris because he figured the material was so damn good that even if Paul W.S Anderson had been hired to direct it would be impossible to ruin the film. So what if the script got changed a long the way and the man behind the camera made some dubious decisions. It’s Hollywood, potential greats are ruined by creatively barren producers and hack directors everyday but as long as everything was ship shape in the beginning. I forgive Mr Damon for this sin.

Anyway, enough beating around the bush. For the first 30 minutes this is an absorbing and thoroughly entertaining flick. Damon is solid and charismatic, Emily Blunt is sexy and mysterious and Mad Men’s Roger Sterling (John Slattery) crops up in a dapper hat. So far so great but as things roll along and more of the plot is revealed, any viewer who has not had a recent full frontal lobotomy will slowly but surely reach the conclusion that this film is cack.

Now writers are not supposed to use words like ‘cack’ when critiquing a film. It’s considered to be uncouth and disrespectful, a sure fire sign of a state school education but I’m so disappointed in director/screenwriter George Nolfi’s finished product that I’m willing to be labelled a vulgar peasant for the remainder of this article.

I have not read the Phillip K. Dick short The Adjustment Team (1954) on which this film is based but after some brief research it seems that the script bares little or no resemblance to the original story. ‘So what?’, you may cry, and I hear you, but the screenplay is so ludicrous and badly written that attaching Dick’s name to it is akin to digging up his grave and urinating on his bones.

The romance between Damon and Blunt is sweet, touching and totally believable. The idea that all our fates are predetermined and that there is an organisation which ensures we stick to the right path is the stuff of quality science fiction. If the likes of Spielberg, J.J. Abrams or Duncan Jones had been on duty then I’m certain the film would have been a gem but George Nolfi doesn’t have the talent.

The whole thing smacks of someone writing as they are filming and that is almost always a recipe for disaster. I mean the man wrote Ocean’s Twelve (2004) for Christ sake and why anyone would hire him after he delivered that gigantic turd of a script is beyond me.

If you have a super human ability to suspend disbelief or you’ve ingested enough drugs that your basic motor skills have ceased to function then I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Adjustment Bureau and even consider buying yourself a trilby. If, on the other hand you are Compos Mentis and are not currently taking any prescribed medication then there is no way you are going to buy what Nolfi is trying to sell you.

Lee Cassanell