REVIEW: The Adjustment Bureau – Everything happens for a reason, right?

Tom Andrew

Not many logical explanations can be given for the countless times we lose our keys or spill a coffee, causing us to miss a train, bus or speeding car as we step off a curb. In fact, the phrase “Everything happens for a reason” is used in those situations more often than not. But does everything really happen for a reason?

David Norris (Matt Damon) is a live-wire New York governor who is running for a seat on the Senate, but his bad-boy/frat-boy antics keep getting in the way of his climb on the political ladder. Even his best friend and right-hand man, Charlie (Michael Kelley), can’t keep him on track.

So the Adjustment Bureau takes over.

The Bureau is lead by Harry, Richardson and Thompson and many other well-dressed men in hats. They can, and will, fix those tiny blunders we make in our lives, keeping us on the path that we are destined to be on, no matter what it takes.

David literally gets caught with his pants down, and while the election he is currently racing will end in ashes, the Bureau wants to be sure that he will come out victorious in his next foray. To do that they need to make sure that his concession speech is a good one and one that sounds genuine.

While going over his speech in the men’s room he encounters a ballet dancer named Elise (Emily Blunt), a woman who instantly captivates his heart. Their chance meeting causes him to ditch his approved concession speech and make up a new one on the fly.

That speech keeps him in the race for the next election. That woman becomes someone he realizes he can’t live without, which is not what the Bureau wants.

They feel David’s involvement with her will cost him his destiny. So, they go about trying to keep them apart, but ultimately fail. This forces them to reveal who they are and why he needs to stay away from her, but he just can’t.

Damon winningly plays David. He has just the right look and attitude to be both a hopeful politician and ex-frat boy. On top of that he shows so much empathy, love and incredibility in his face that we are forced to fight for him. It’s haunting.

Blunt plays Elise with doe-eyed perfection, and her dancing is sensually graceful. She is in love with David the minute she sees him, and you can see that when they first meet, even though she does her level best to hide it.

Anthony Mackie, John Slattery and Terrance Stamp play Harry, Richardson and Thompson, who head the Bureau. They all have the wit, yet the seriousness, to pull off being those in charge of a world full of people whose lives need to be kept on track.

Veteran actor Stamp (“The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Yes Man”) and Damon have a wonderful scene in which the practice of free will is brought into question. The scene is both chilling and frustrating.

First-time director George Nolfi keeps the pace moving, and his script — based on a short story by Philip K. Dick — keeps us entertained and interested throughout. Nolfi also poses a plausible on-screen scenario and one that will cause many to discuss it long after the film is over.

“The Adjustment Bureau” may not be nominated for any Oscars next year, but at least it is a film that will make you think about who you meet, why you meet them and just who is in control of our destiny if we aren’t.

4.5 out of 5 stars