Fair play to Matt Damon. After breaking through with an Oscar nominated performance in Good Will Hunting, a clutch of disappointing follow ups nearly relegated him to unbankable status and a hilarious parody in Team America (Matt Damonnnnnnn!) may have been the death knell. Yet his ability to take on a clutch of different roles has transformed him into an ‘everyman’ quality, being able to create a number of believable performances, while still maintaining star power. Step aside Tom Hanks.
Young Congressman David Norris (Damon) is being groomed for high office, but after a chance meeting with a ballerina Elise (Emily Blunt), a mysterious group try to ensure that the pair never meet again.
The film has been pitched as Bourne meets Inception which proves how hard the filmmakers must have found it to identify a target audience, because apart from Matt Damon running a lot, it is nothing like either. Based on a story by Philip K Dick, the science fiction element takes a backseat to a love story with a few quasi-religious undertones thrown in. Are you keeping up? Debut director George Nolfi sometimes struggles to juggle all the elements.
For a science-fiction themed idea there are some fascinating ideas involved. The Adjustment Bureau are a team of seemingly non-denominational angelic figures who are responsible for controlling the fate of man. This removal of free will casts a moral cloud over their motives (no Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life here). Their powers of teleportation and telekinesis look flashy on screen, but also fall foul of plot logic – they can stop time but fail to prevent Norris getting on a bus.
Much of the film relies upon the chemistry of Damon and Emily Blunt and there is a wonderful spontaneity and yet naturalness between the pair. Blunt is a force of nature, stunning but grounded in some form of reality and Damon adds his million dollar smile to Norris without stealing the limelight completely.
Nolfi makes superb use of New York’s locations with a couple of superb vistular voyages, but makes a fudge of some other scenes (a love scene looks straight of TV movie heaven) and occasionally loses sight of the story as Damon attempts to cover more mileage than Jason Bourne.
The leads and locations shine and the story is a cut above most mindless fare found in Hollywood today. So despite its flaws, go into the Adjustment Bureau without any expectations and you will probably come out smiling.