This is my review of The Adjustment Bureau. As I told my friend, “I weirdly feel like writing [it.] Because the world needs more of my opinion. And Tim shouldn’t hog all the movie opinions.”
I should warn you that I do not intend on being technical with terms, plot, names, or descriptions. Nor do I plan on delving into the thought provoking questions possibly brought to mind by this film. In fact, I’m not sure it’s even fair to call this a review. It’s just my opinion, shoved down your throat like hot gruel.
worse better, brimstone and treacle.
But most of all, you should know that I’m not being careful about spoilers, so if you care about that sort of thing, stop reading now!!
Otherwise, carry on!
Like I did with my Tangled review, I want to start with the title.
I like it! Lots! I like it so much that I didn’t even feel the need to change the subject line, which I often do up to ten times before I publish a post. It’s interesting and gives the gist of the film without too much pomp and fanfare.
The one thing I dislike about the title: the word ‘bureau.’ That’s a hard word to spell. Its origins must be French, and as we all learned from Rata… Rati… *looks it up* Ratatouille, French words should never be allowed in film titles. Not even if it’s a French film.
What I gathered from the trailer was this:
Matt Damon thinks–rightfully so–that Emily Blunt is pretty and wants to be with her. But because of some inevitable cataclysmic terror that will come to pass if their lives permanently intertwine, he is told not to be with her by important men in hats. He tries to be with her anyway. Then the men in hats trip him.
My brother–who saw the movie once before I did–told me that it was boring except for Emily Blunt. I shrugged and thought “whatever.” Not just because, um, Matt Damon is in it too, but I have far more appreciation for slow moving films devoid of car chase scenes and big explosions than my nineteen year old brother.
But essentially, he was right. (Ugh. How painful to admit he’s right about something. :P) If it wasn’t for the romance angle, I would have been flat out bored. I found myself cracking jokes during any scene that didn’t involve interaction between the main couple, and even yawned during one philosophically thick conversation. And no, it is not natural for me to yawn during philosophical discussions.
The biggest problem–besides a failure to keep the thinking parts interesting–was the gap ridden plot.
The first noticeable problem arose when Matt Damon (for that is his name) failed to memorize a hot girl’s number.
Now, I am really bad with numbers. I can barely handle elementary level subtraction. But if I was infatuated with an attractive man and had the fortune to bump into him a second time in my life with the only means of future contact handed to me in a sequence of digits, you can bet your last bit I would put them to memory. And if a gang of men in fedoras chained me to a chair and threatened me with death, I would die repeating that sequence in my head. It just doesn’t seem plausible that Matt Damon wouldn’t think to learn the number. We all saw what he was capable of in the Bourne films.
And please don’t mention the “they can read minds” thing, because that came up like, once in the movie and never seemed to matter again.
Sometime after this tragic mistake, he’s managed to bump into the love of his life again and works to earn back her trust. But no sooner do things start to go well than the men show up in their dapper hats to warn that Matt’s pursual of Miss Blunt will result in the destruction of her grandest dreams. Specifically, those of becoming a world famous ballerina. So off he goes, sacrificing his need to be with this woman for the sake of her future rise to fame, and we, as a humane, heart-possessing audience are supposed to dab our eyes and say “Awwwww!”
His willingness to break his own heart for the sake of her dreams might have been a nice gesture if it wasn’t totally unnecessary. A simple game of Would You Rather could have settled things without a hospital dumping or a violation of the hat-men’s rules on super secrecy. And women love to play question games, so there was nothing to lose by this tactic!
Matt Damon: So… hypothetically, if you were to… not be a world famous dancer, but got to marry me instead, would that be okay?
Emily Blunt: *in adorable British accent* Well… can’t I have both?
Matt Damon: No, in this completely hypothetical scenario you are only allowed one or the other. What
will would it be, lovely British woman? Me or your wildest dreams?
At that moment, she leans close to him and breathes…
Problem solved! He knows she loves him more than dancing without having to break the silly secrets rule and the movie can be an hour shorter!
The revelation scene was really weird, too, along with that whole part leading up to it. We figured it was a fantasy from the moment a politician gave an honest speech. But when Matt Damon goes from ignorant bylooker to seeing guys in fedoras doing brain scans on his friend while the rest of the office is frozen in time, it just felt out of place. I guess that could have been the point; from Matt Damon’s perspective, it was also really weird. But as an audience member I found it laughable even with a little bit of context.
And what about the dreaded consequences of their eternal togetherness? I thought it would be nuclear weapons being sold into enemy hands, or a political opponent’s decision causing a third of North America to break off from the continent and sink into the ocean, or a deadly virus killing millions, or worldwide famine at least.
Come to find out it’s just their own dreams that’ll suffer. That’s right. They can oh so selfishly be with the person who loves them completely, or make the noble sacrifice to be really, really famous and rich.
Maybe if Matt Damon’s political career promised to save millions of people, or even a few who were very close to him, I would have cared. Or if the alternative path led Emily Blunt somewhere other than teaching kids the joy of dance, I could see where the men in hats had a point. But they didn’t.
Furthermore, when the men in hats tell Matt and Em that she made a great sacrifice by following him, I just didn’t feel it. So she went through magical doors and they made out on a roof. Love conquers all, yay.
But the cost wasn’t great. It’s not like she had a family to think about or friends that would suffer because of her choice. And if she did, we weren’t given enough character development to grasp it. It didn’t take a lot of courage to hold Matt Damon’s hand and go with him through the magic doorway. (Trust me on that.) She had just left her fiance at the courthouse from whence she was planning on marrying him. Can you imagine the mess to sort out? Explanations, apologies, decisions on whether you’re going to repair things with jilted groom or stick by the man you loved from a long time ago while your friends probably call you filthy names behind your back. Running away from all that was not a hard choice to make.
There was one scene that made me feel scared that maybe continuing the chase was a bad idea. That was the taxi crash. Right then, stuff got real. But the driver was fine! Nobody died! In all of Matt Damon’s romancing, the only casualties were a couple careers and a mini-skirt! And it wasn’t Matt’s fault that the taxi guy couldn’t drive properly. Honestly.
If the movie was purely a romantic comedy/drama, it would have been tons better. Even I, who watch dozens of BBC dramas comprised mostly of hour long conversations in the drawing room, was disappointed by the lack of excitement to be gained from this film. The preview built it up to be a suspense movie, but unless the couple was bantering and giggling, I had zero interest.
From this review you might think I didn’t like the film. But I did. I kind of want to watch it a couple more times because it was interesting and made me think. In fact, I appreciate that the plot was gappy, giving me the chance to complain about things in this very long blog post!
All in all, I give it three out of five fedoras.
Although I can’t help thinking that from now on every guy who’s ever late for a date has prime excuse material.