There are these guys, see? And they’re dressed in slightly out-of-date suits, gray mostly. And they wear hats, all the time.
They dress like “Mad Men” and they’re led by a “Mad Men” star (John Slattery). But they’re not in advertising, circa 1962. No, these guys run a vast bureaucracy that clocks in every morning and decides our fate.
Make a move that doesn’t follow the predetermined path your life was supposed to follow, they set you straight. That’s what “The Adjustment Bureau” does, manipulate events so your life follows their plan. And nobody knows they’re doing this.
Until David Norris. His run for Congress just got derailed, and he’s just met a woman who changed his whole world view. An impulsive guy, acting on impulse, David (Matt Damon) stumbles into the knowledge of this “Bureau.” And as years pass and effort is expended by that apparatus — Are they angels, micro-managing aliens? — David battles them for the chance to re-connect with Elise (Emily Blunt), who set off sparks with him on the worst day of his life.
“The Adjustment Bureau” has hints of several supernatural romances, especially “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Damon and Blunt have spectacular chemistry, and their flirtations have such snap you’d swear Damon is blushing as Blunt bats her eyes at him.
This “Inception” meets “Made in Heaven” by way of “They Live” is also the screwiest movie Matt Damon has been in since, what, “Dogma?”
But “The Adjustment Bureau” is a romantic thriller too caught up in its thrills to be as romantic as it needs to be. David carries around this top-secret knowledge and schemes for that moment when he can go “off plan.” Slattery sets off in pursuit as David tries this trick and that to escape the overseers and find his way to the slender, sexy dancer he only knows by her first name.
That tug we’re supposed to feel, as we root for them to connect? It’s just not strong enough to sustain what is essentially a cute thriller treatment of the notion that we do not control our own destiny.
What: “The Adjustment Bureau”
Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery
Directed by: George Nolfi
Running time: 104 minutes
Rated: PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image