The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, is loosely based on the 1954 short story “The Adjustment Team” by Philip K. Dick. His short stories have been brought to the big screen many times for such films as Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, and Minority Report. The Adjustment Bureau tackles Dick’s familiar themes of fate and control (or lack thereof) over one’s own destiny, however it is only thematically related to its original source material.
Damon plays a well-liked young congressman named David Norris who seems destined to become president, until a past college prank derails his popularity in the upcoming election. A chance encounter with a woman named Elise (Blunt) changes his life. He feels destined to be with Elise, but the universe is doing its best to keep them apart. Norris is constantly followed by mysterious men in hats who are determined to keep him on track according to “the plan.” The plan was written by “The Chairman,” and his bureau is the otherworldly agents that keep the plan on track.
The Adjustment Bureau gets off to a great start, but ultimately can’t keep the momentum going. The early scenes of Norris’ campaign, his first chance meeting with Elise, and his early encounters with the Adjustment Bureau offer intrigue and excitement. However, as the movie goes on it becomes more and more about trying to outrun the bureau than anything else. The concepts about how much control people have over their own lives, and how one action can so easily affect another are so much more interesting than the love story this movie ends up revolving around.
The idea that The Chairman and his bureau are so obsessed with Norris and Elise is hard to buy even in the context of this movie. There is just not enough reason to care about this couple and what their future will be. When it comes down to nothing ever really seems to be at stake. The theme of “love conquers all” has been done so many times and this movie does not bring anything new or exciting to the concept. The idea of a plan being written by a higher power should have been more fully explored. In this movie it practically seems as though Norris and Elise are the only ones impacted by the forces of a “master plan.” It’s disappointing to see interesting ideas pushed aside in favor of a conventional love story.
The Blu-ray picture looks great. The movie is presented in 1080p 1.85:1 with a VC-1 encoded transfer. The images are sharp and detailed even when the scenes take place in the dark or low lighting locations. The movie certainly lives up to the current standards of video presentation. The sound is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The mix makes good use of all the speakers with the ambient noise of New York City coming through the surrounds, creating an immersive feel. The dialogue is clear and mixed at a volume where it does not get drowned out by the other sounds. The Blu-ray hosts the usual array of special features including deleted scenes, feature commentary with writer/director George Nolfi, a “Labyrinth of Doors” featurette spotlighting various locations from the movie, interviews with Damon and Blunt discussing their characters, and a featurette about how Blunt prepared for her role as a professional dancer.