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Majestic Preview: The Adjustment Bureau

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Hello film fans, it’s a new week and a new film for the Majestic Theater in Wayne!  This preview is brought to you by the hyphen, for all your word-linking needs.

The Adjustment Bureau

Let’s get it established right now that The Adjustment Bureau is a science fiction film.  Perhaps one may also view it as a spiritual film, but it is not overtly so.  Even though the original story of The Adjustment Bureau comes from the mind of towering-science-fiction-idol Philip K. Dick, it’s not a ray-gun-oogy-alien-iPad-red-shirt science fiction story.

Matt Damon (the Jason Bourne films) takes the lead in this story, as a bad-boy politician in the middle of a scandal derailing his senate run.  At the worst moment of crisis, in which he take a moment to compose himself in the bathroom before giving his concession speech he meets Emily Blunt’s  (Young Victoria) intriguing party crasher.

As the story unfolds, we start to see how Damon is managed clandestinely by an inconclusively-defined group of beings referred to as the Adjustment Bureau.  Among their behatted ranks are front-line agents played by Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) and John Slattery (Mad Men).  More senior and certainly more scary is Terrence Stamp as a sort of heavy-handed fixer that reminds me indirectly of a fellow played by Harvey Keitel in Reservoir Dogs.

The motivation of the story is that Damon’s character has fallen in love with Blunt’s character, even through the Adjustment Bureau is determined to keep them from ever meeting again, in order to maintain “The Plan”.  This is more than a first-college-then-job-then-marry-then-kids-then-midlife-crisis sort of plan.  I won’t spoil the plot further, but will admit that the sort of questions raised by the film regarding free-will might put you into an existential crisis, if you’re prone to such things.  All the best science fiction runs that risk.

The Adjustment Bureau is not a great film for all time, but it is a very capably executed film with a kinetic flow which builds slowly throughout the run time.  The only real sin committed by the director is to require Matt Damon to wear a fedora a few sizes too small.  It is a plot necessity, so we must all endure.  I feel that this film perhaps would have done immensely well had it been made in the nineties, but the target market for old-school-small-scaled-what-if science fiction has just grown up and/or old in the new century.

Everyone acquits themselves admirably on screen, although I find myself again flummoxed by Emily Blunt, of whom there never seems to be enough when she’s working at her top ability.   Mackie shows hints of great potential; this role has officially put him on my radar.  I’m also curious to see what first-time director George Nolfi will come up with next.

See Also

Emily Blunt has been stealing a scene here and there, most notably in The Devil Wears Prada.  For leading roles, I suggest digging up My Summer of Love for the edgier material, or Young Victoria for more safe territory.

Anthony Mackie might have been overlooked in all the hoopla over The Hurt Locker in 2009.  Renner was clearly doing excellent work, but Mackie was instrumental in contextualizing the Renner’s character.

Philip K. Dick’s works have spawned a number of science fiction films, the best of which is almost certainly Blade Runner.  Also worth checking out are Minority Report and Total Recall, the latter for which I must admit an embarrassing affinity at odds with my normal preferences.

Written by Bill

March 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Posted in Movies

Tagged with ,

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