Based on the short story Adjustment Team by Philip K Dick The Adjustment Bureau is the story of David Norris, a politician running to be the Senator for New York. It begins in to the run up to the election, Norris is ahead in the polls and it looks like there’s no stopping him. He a tough background, comes from Brooklyn and lost his family at a young age and strikes a chord with the people, but on the eve of the election a story breaks with pictures of him drunk at a party and mooning some friends and his rating takes a nose dive. On the night of the election the numbers are looking bad and he goes in to the gents toilets to rehearse his speech to accept defeat gracefully. And after a while rehearsing he hears something drop in one of the cubicles, only to find a woman in there hiding. They discuss what’s happening and how his best moments in the election were when he was true to himself, and he finds she’s hiding from the guards because she crashed a party, but before she’s chased away they share a kiss and he is inspired to go and give a speech that is true to himself and although he loses the election his popularity grows.
We skip forward to Norris starting a new job, and some mysterious men wearing smart suits and hats in the park discussing how he needs a little adjustment. He must spill his coffee on his shirt by 7:05am and miss his bus. As he walks though the park we see the man who is supposed to make the adjustment has fallen asleep on the bench and he makes it to his bus on time, to his surprise he sees the woman from election night asleep on the bus, they talk, she’s called Elise, and he asks for her number and after some playful flirting and some blackberry damage she writes her number on a card for him and slips it in his wallet. He makes it in to work on time only to find everyone there frozen in time and the men in suits, along with a team of others working on his frozen partner. He runs and they give chase, they catch him and knock him out. When he awakes he’s in what looks like a big warehouse. They tell him he’s seen behind a curtain he was never supposed to know existed and they’re going to tell him what few other humans know. They are the Adjusters and they make things happen so people stay on their destined path. Spill a coffee, lose your keys, trip up so you miss the bus? That’s probably them making sure you stay on path and on his path he was never meant to meet Elise again and he can’t see her again, and if he tells anyone of their existence they will wipe his memory and make it so people think he’s crazy.
So that’s the set up of the story and if you’ve seen the trailer (or maybe if you haven’t) you’ll know what happens from there. Yes, there is a level of predictability to the whole thing but there are some twists and turns along the way. The premise is very interesting, it has to do with fate and how things are written in your life, how chance and determination can have a factor in how things turn out but working behind the scenes are these people trying to make things run along a particular path, for good or ill. There are hints that the Adjustment Bureau are angels making sure things run to plan and the chairman is god, though they also say they have many other names. There’s an interesting bit in there about the plan having changed but there’s not a lot of explanation given as to why. There are a lot of interesting ins and outs to think about if you’re so inclined.
Matt Damon appears to be everywhere lately, and he does fine in this and he’s become a solid actor. Emily Blunt also does well but unfortunately there are parts of the film where it drags a little, feeling like perhaps it could have done to be a little shorter. And while I’d say in general it’s a decent film and I enjoyed it overall, other than the premise nothing stands out as particularly memorable. In other words, it’s well worth watching but don’t expect to be blown away by anything just sit back and allow yourself to be entertained and maybe let some deeper thoughts of your own seep in.