It’s fate vs. free will! It’s Philip K. Dick! It’s bus-riding New York politician Matt Damon (???) romancing dancer Emily Blunt! It’s Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, and Terrence Stamp—the presumed titular Adjustment Bureau—running around dressed like 1950s FBI guys adjusting stuff doing supernatural-looking science-fictiony things, with books where the print moves around and stuff! Who’s pumped?
Screenwriter George Nolfi, best known for his credits on Ocean’s Twelve and The Bourne Ultimatum, makes his directorial debut in The Adjustment Bureau in what appears—based on the trailer—to be more of a romantic story with science fiction trappings than straight SF. It bears very little apparent resemblance to the Dick story “Adjustment Team” (which, interestingly, was in the public domain due to a clerical error; did the Adjustment Bureau do that so the filmmakers could get the rights? DID THEY?) other than at the most basic level of manipulating reality so that things happen the way they’re supposed to. Except love conquers all. Just like if you like yourself, you get anything and everything you ever wanted. And you can totally survive an exploding building if you run in slow motion and bellow a low F#.
The Adjustment Bureau was originally supposed to come out a couple months ago, but we shouldn’t assume that pushing it back from awards season to a less-competitive box office month (March) is indicative of quality. Just like we shouldn’t assume that at the end of the second act, Anthony Mackie is going to have a change of heart and start assisting Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in their attempts to defy fate and find true love, which will result in a pitched battle ending in John Slattery’s death before Anthony Mackie martyrs himself and kills Terrence Stamp, resulting in the dissolution of The Adjustment Bureau and Emily Blunt breathily asking Matt Damon what he thinks the future holds before he responds with something terse and manly about going forth into the great unknown before kissing her as the music comes up. Just because I’m willing to bet a month’s salary that that’s exactly what’s going to happen doesn’t mean you need to be cynical too.