Andy Bockelman: ‘Adjustment Bureau’ in need of some fine-tuning | CraigDailyPress.com

Andy Bockelman: ‘Adjustment Bureau’ in need of some fine-tuning

Andy Bockelman is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society, and his movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press.

When you can turn a doorknob and go from a women's bathroom to Yankee Stadium to a busy Manhattan street to the base of the Statue of Liberty in a matter of minutes, you'd think you wouldn't have to worry about being followed. But, if your pursuers are involved with "The Adjustment Bureau," you'd be wrong.

In 2006, New York congressman David Norris (Matt Damon) is on track to become the newest member of the U.S. Senate. That's until a smear campaign destroys his chances for the current race.

But, meeting a random woman named Elise (Emily Blunt) buoys his confidence, putting him back in the running for the next election. When David meets the mystery girl again a month later and makes an even greater connection, kismet appears to be on his side.

But, that was before he saw something he wasn't supposed to see — the men of the Adjustment Bureau, an organization that oversees the various activities of humankind and ensures that the most important moments go according to plan. And, as the head (John Slattery) of the project tells him, David is no longer on schedule, a misstep that can only be fixed if he avoids Elise for the rest of his life.

Threatened by the Bureau into going back to the plan they've worked out for him, the young politician's life goes on, though he's unable to get Elise out of his mind. When he finally comes into contact with her again, he decides that he'll do whatever he can to keep her in his life, even if it means facing the wrath of a group that can do pretty much anything.

After three stints as Jason Bourne, Damon must be getting used to running around and pushing people out of the way, something David does continually as he attempts to evade the members of the Adjustment Bureau.

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The actor certainly looks the part of the magnetic politician, who also boasts the title of the youngest person to be elected to the House of Representatives.

Blunt is no less winning as accomplished ballet dancer Elise, giving a warm and engaging depiction of a character who's slightly underwritten. Still, it's easy to see why a guy would be willing to fight for a woman like her.

Clad in a gray flannel suit and fedora, "Mad Men" actor Slattery, barely discernible from his defining role as Roger Sterling, is fine as Richardson, the Adjustment Bureau middle man who warns David not to tamper with forces beyond his control, under penalty of being "reset," or for us laymen, having his brain erased.

But, Richardson's nothing compared to the threat imposed by always great antagonist Terence Stamp as higher-up Bureau agent Thompson, a dead-eyed, merciless shell of a man who has no hesitance in forcing people to fall in line.

But, not everyone at the Bureau is quite so detached, as evidenced by Anthony Mackie as Harry Mitchell, David's individual caseworker, who inadvertently sets the meet with Elise in motion and wonders aloud if he and his colleagues are truly justified in their actions.

Some heavy subjects are delved into here, as the men of the Adjustment Bureau discuss the concept of free will and why it's no longer present by order of their boss, "The Chairman." In a smart move, such complicated concepts as causality, predestination and the element of chance are given more attention than the Bureau members' telekinetic abilities and the indecipherable charts they use, even if this does make the movie talkier than it needs to be.

But, once his adaptation of science fiction legend Philip K. Dick's short story "Adjustment Team" gets into the meatier action, debuting director George Nolfi — a co-writer for "The Bourne Ultimatum" — takes us on a good ride as David and Elise try to escape the Bureau. And, as the suspense mounts more and more, the story only gets better — until the final moments when everything goes kaput.

This poor resolution wouldn't be as disheartening if we weren't talking about a film that's supposed to be about creating an ideal future.

The irony is just too much.

While the strengths of "The Adjustment Bureau" barely outweigh its weaknesses, it's still a watchable movie with intelligent handling. No doubt your chart predicts that you are meant to see it.

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‘The Adjustment Bureau’

2.5 out of 4 stars

105 minutes

Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Slattery and Terence Stamp.

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