Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

It's an SF film, and it's from a Philip K. Dick work, so even though many critics have panned it, you know I'd have to see it. I'm happy to report that I enjoyed it, and I think you can, too, provided you make one key adjustment of your own before you walk into the theater:

Forget the alleged tie to the Dick story, and pretend it has nothing to do with the long-dead SF great.

If you don't make this move, then I can guarantee disappointment awaits you. The movie occasionally veers into the mood turf of Dick's stories, but that's about as close as it comes to the original.

If, however, you are willing to treat it as entirely its own thing, then The Adjustment Bureau will deliver a couple of hours of solid entertainment. The first half will do even more: it's a genuinely interesting and well done story of destiny vs. free will. In the second half, the wheels of formula crank up and you can see the happy ending hurtling toward you, but at least it hurtles at an increasingly faster speed and with considerable attractiveness.

The lead actors also deliver strong performances. Matt Damon, despite occasional lapses into his native Boston accent, is believable as the bad-boy Brooklyn kid making it good. Emily Blunt is compelling in most of her scenes, and her first appearance is strong enough to carry us with her through the few weak moments that will follow. John Slattery delivers the right mix of world weariness and inevitability. Anthony Mackie communicates a great deal even when he's not talking. In fact, he does a good enough job that when the plot requires him to make a move that your brain knows his character would never do, your heart is tempted to buy it.

If you're willing to make the very important adjustment I mentioned above, I suspect you'll enjoy The Adjustment Bureau.

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