The Adjustment Bureau stars Matt Damon as David Norris, a man who wants to be the next Senator of New York, but when he’s way out in the lead, a newspaper scandal threatens to derail the campaign about a college prank from which a secret photo was taken.
He meets ballet dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) in a hotel men’s room while he prepares his speech to concede defeat to his opponent. Their time is brief, but the attraction is obvious and they share a passionate snog before security come looking for her because she broke into somewhere where she’s not meant to be – well, she’s in a men’s room for a start(!)
Once the election is lost, Dave begins a new corporate job, but some men in black hats are following him, including Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie), a man who’s meant to get coffee on David’s shirt by 7.05am, as has been instructed by Richardson (John Slattery), the most senior of them all, but Harry misses David getting on the bus and chases after it. Meanwhile, after getting on, he spots Elise who, by chance, is also on that same bus. She gives him her number and tells him to call her some time and then they part again.
As David enters his new office, he doesn’t even realise that everyone inside is seemingly frozen in time. He discovers this only when he walks into a room to find his ‘frozen’ campaign manager Charlie Traynor (Michael Kelly), being analysed by the men in black hats. Naturally, as one tells another to grab him, he makes a break for it.
Once captured, they explain they are the men from The Adjustment Bureau, and they “make sure everything goes according to plan” and ensure they’re in the right place at the right time by seemingly ‘teleporting’ through special doors that lead through to another area in a way that the public could never imagine. He finds himself trapped in a large room where he hears the others are planning to ‘reset’ him.
The basic premise is that they are able to change the course of life to a small degree to make things work 100% how they want them yo. As such, beyond the initial chance meeting, he was never meant to bump into Elise again, as the spilt coffee would’ve delayed him getting on the bus by ten minutes, so they take out the piece of paper on which she wrote her mobile number and burn it. Suddenly, everything is back to normal and the room in which he was confronted has now disappeared and turned back into a conference room. Note that he cannot tell anyoneanything about them, however, as otherwise he will be ‘reset’, i.e. his brain will be erased.
So, will he ever see her again? Well, if he didn’t then there wouldn’t be a film. And when they try to defy fate, along comes Thompson (Terence Stamp, the most senior of the black-hatted men, to put his foot down and make things right for his organisation.
Personally, I normally hate any kind of a hint of a romantic movie, but for this one, you actually want the two of them to get together and it’s a marvellous premise and is carried off brilliantly from start to finish. Also, I believe in fate, but being told what to do by a bunch of suspicious-looking men in black hats? I don’t think so.
Matt Damon is his usual self and always makes a good fist of the action roles, even when he’s let down by a bit of a duff script as in the second two Jason Bourne films. Emily Blunt, however, takes to a Hollywood role like a duck to water. Yes, she’s done a number of big-name films already such as The Young Victoria, Gulliver’s Travels and Charlie Wilson’s War, but this is the first time I’ve seen her in a major role.
Go to page 2 for a look at the presentation and the extras.
Presented in the original 1.85:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition, the picture is not quite 100% as sharp as I’d have expected. There’s little to complain about, but it just doesn’t feel on top form.
Audio-wise, the film is in DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio and while there’s no gunfire or explosions to make use of that, there is good use of sound for chase scenes and other incidental music.
The extras are as follows and may give spoilers so if you haven’t seen the film, look away now:
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (6:54): There are six here and the only one I’d put back in is the third one which features extra dialogue from Terrence Stamp. The others are okay, but serve nicely as extras and not back in the film itself.
- The Labyrinth of Doors: Interactive Map of New York: A neat little extra that shows where all the doors lead from one side to the other.
- Leaping Through New York (7:36): A brief ‘making of’-style piece about getting through the doors that makes for a fascinating watch.
- Destined To Be (4:51): A brief featurette about how fate affects our lives.
- Becoming Elise (7:08): Seven minutes on why Emily Blunt was picked – because she’s a good actress and pulled out all the stops to get the ballet training done.
- Audio description: A feature-length additional soundtrack which describes what’s going on for the sight-impaired.
- Audio commentary: with director/writer George Nolfi
The menu features clips from the film while the theme plays in the background. There are subtitles in English, French and Spanish and the total number of chapters is 20, which is a reasonable amount for a film running for around 1hr 45 mins.
However, I wish Universal wouldn’t use their own form of ‘pause’ screen of a Universal logo turning from one side to the other and back again. Just seems odd and pointless that they defy convention.
Also, it takes a fair amount of time of the main menu to actually come up. Rather than load it in as soon as possible, they make the machine waste time by bringing up an image of four titles they want you to rent… most of which have now been shown on TV anyway.
Running time: 106 minutes
Cat no: 8282398
Distributor: Universal Pictures UK
Released: July 2011
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio
Languages: English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Disc Format: BD50
Director: George Nolfi
Producer: Bill Carraro, Michael Hackett, Chris Moore and George Nolfi
Screenplay: George Nolfi (based on a short story, “Adjustment Team” by Philip K Dick)
Music: Thomas Newman
David Norris: Matt Damon
Elise Sellas: Emily Blunt
Charlie Traynor: Michael Kelly
Harry Mitchell: Anthony Mackie
Richardson: John Slattery
McCready: Anthony Ruivivar
Donaldson: Donnie Keshawarz
Thompson: Terence Stamp
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
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