There are a number of reasons why this movie was great, but I think a majority of it centered on the element of surprise. As in, “Surprise! It’s a ‘chick flick’!” or “Surprise! Religious undertones!” or even “Surprise! Matt Damon didn’t suck!” Even the expected was unexpected and everything, from the plot to the acting, kept me engaged and wanting more.
The Adjustment Bureau stars Matt Damon as David Norris, a politician running for Senate who accidentally sees behind the scenes of Fate. He is sworn to secrecy by the men who “control” the fate of humankind, but when he is told the woman he has fallen in love with (Emily Blunt as Elise) cannot be in his future, he fights back. The film spans over almost four years as David meets Elise, loses her, finds her, leaves her, and then (you guessed it) finds her again.
The first thing that caught me off guard was the romance in the film. Sure, the trailers advertised the plot of David fighting for Elise, but the film itself goes so much deeper. From just a quick meeting in the men’s bathroom, Elise’s quirky personality changes David into a better man and politician. In the scenes after he’s been told they can’t be together, the arguments are more than heated and David goes so far as to punch one of the “adjusters.” There is a particularly poignant scene at Elise’s apartment when she shows how the strength of her connection to David is so powerful that it scares her. And the scene after, where David gives in and leaves Elise to save her future, is particularly heart-wrenching. So I guess my point is the film spent more time developing the relationship than I had originally anticipated which was a pleasant surprise. It gave the film more depth and, in my case, helped me to connect to the film on a different level.
Another surprise that wasn’t really a surprise was the religious undertone to the plot. I mean, if it’s a story about Fate vs Free Will then some sort of god-like character who makes the big decisions is going to show up. In this case, “the chairman” is who the adjusters answer to and the question of whether or not the adjusters are angels comes into play at one point. However, going into the film knowing all of this, I think George Nolfi (Director) did a spectacular job of keeping religion out of it. The plot had just the right amount of intricacies to keep it intriguing and there was no reason to throw God into the mix. The topic is edged around carefully and tastefully so as not to offend the religious or the atheists alike.
Lastly, Matt Damon. Now I have nothing against Matt Damon and I will admit to enjoying most, if not all, of the movies I have seen him in, but he just doesn’t draw me in like certain other actors do. And when I say that I’ve enjoyed his movies I mean just that: I enjoy them but I very rarely love them. They’re decent and they have their finer points, but Matt Damon nor his acting have ever one of them. In this film, though, I think he took a step up in my opinion of him as an actor. He really made me believe his intense feellings for Elise and his determination to do anything he could to be with her. You could feel his helplessness as he ran around the streets of New York searching for the chairman and trying to convince a very confused Elise to stay with him. It may go back to the development of the relationship that I was talking about earlier, but, for once, Matt Damon played a huge part in why I loved this movie.
These three points weren’t the only reasons why this movie was great. Emily Blunt was brilliant as always (go see The Young Victoria, you won’t be sorry) and her sarcastic attitude really lightens the tone of the film. The main “adjusters” that David has to deal with, played by Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, and Terence Stamp, offer just the right amount of sympathy, blind loyalty, and heartlessness that ties the rest of the film together. And lastly, but most importantly, the story was interesting and left the audience wondering about Fate vs Free Will long after the credits start rolling.