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McCoy on Movies: "The Adjustment Bureau" Movie Review

McCoy on Movies: "The Adjustment Bureau" Movie Review
Matt Damon returns to theaters in what some might best describe as "The Matrix" meets "The Fountain" with a less apocalyptic, more human twist. But is it any good? Our movie critic gives his take.
 
"Dude ... Are you trying to sell me AmWay products?!" David Norris (Matt Damon) gets a look at some documents he was never meant to see, thanks to Agent Harry (Anthony Mackie) in a scene from "The Adjustment Bureau."

 

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Terrence Stamp and Michael Kelly

 

WRITER: George Nolfi (screenplay), Philip K. Dick (original short story)

 

DIRECTOR: George Nolfi

 

WEB SITE: TheAdjusmentBureau.com

 

THE PLOT: Written and directed for the screen by George Nolfi and based upon the short story "Adjustment Team" by Philip K. Dick, "The Adjustment Bureau" stars Matt Damon as David Norris, a young (by political standards) New York politician running for Senate. David has quite the grassroots steam behind him despite his rough and tumble past, which included getting into a bar fight on a previous election night.

 

David's past comes back to haunt him yet again during his Senate run when a prank with some of his old college buddies becomes front page news. Retreating to a bathroom to practice his concession speech, David just so happens to run into a young woman hiding in one of the stalls. Elise (Emily Blunt), the woman in question, is hiding in the bathroom in order to avoid the hotel security officers now looking for after she crashed a wedding. Having a genuine moment, the two exchange pleasantries before Elise has to run off, inspiring David to deliver a blockbuster concession speech.

 

As fate would have it, the two would run into each other later on a bus (you've seen the trailer) and exchange numbers. David then heads off to work at his new job, where his former campaign manager (Michael Kelly) is awaiting him. There's just one problem: Richardson (John Slattery) and the rest of his team are there doing a minor "reset" of everyone at David's office as part of a plan to make sure he and Elise never see each other again.

 

You see, Harry (Anthony Mackie) was supposed to prevent David from ever getting on that bus, but he failed to do so, and now, the plan for David's life according to "The Chairman" (you can figure out who that is) has been altered and must be fixed. And if David's not careful, the team will bring out Thompson (Terrance Stamp), aka "The Hammer," to make sure things get back on track.

 

David, however, has never really been one to follow plans — especially not if it comes to being with the woman he loves.

 

THE TAKE: Matt Damon is like a modern Tom Hanks, and by that I mean that whenever he's in a movie, I'm more prone to believe the film is going to be a quality flick than a poor one. For if he picks a project, nine times out of 10 the writing will be top-notch, the supporting players will be well-assembled and on par with Damon's acting talent, and the project as a whole will be entertaining, visually stimulating and, in some instances, even thought provoking.

 

Those are the reasons "The Adjustment Bureau" is the latest notch on Damon's ever-improving track record of work.

 

With a story of this nature, there are plenty of places Nolfi could have taken Dick's work and bastardized it in an attempt to extend a short story to the big screen. Fortunately for both Dick and the audience, Nolfi takes a jeweler's eye piece to the story, making sure to limit plot holes and make all of the story's events make sense and the character's respective actions make sense within the world of the film. This would not work so effectively, of course, without the strong performances of Damon and Blunt in their roles, reacting as real people and not movie characters that are supposed to be real people. If that doesn't make sense when you read it, just watch the reactions of Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in the trailer for last year's long forgotten "Knight and Day," and then you'll go "Ohhhh, I get it now!"

 

All in all, this film is Damon's and Nolfi's showcase of their ability to bring a story to life, keep you guessing and looking forward to the next twist and ponder what would you do if placed into a similar situation. Instead of force-feeding things down your throat, Nolfi draws you in the story with Damon and the rest of the cast piecing through the story to make sense of each event.

 

PARTING SHOT: If you are looking for a film that delivers a bit of a sci-fi twist with a touch of endearing drama and intelligence, you should make an appointment with "The Adjustment Bureau" sooner rather than later.

 

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PHOTO CREDITS

Andrew Schwartz. © 2011 Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Tabari McCoy -

Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. You can check out more of his work on his blog at McCoyonMovies.BlogSpot.com and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy

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