The Adjustment Bureau

I’ll admit that I’m biased towards a certain type of movie.  Certain themes resonate with me.  I like concepts of fate and destiny, and I love the idea of two people being soulmates who are destined for each other.  On another note, Matt Damon is my absolute favorite actor of this generation.  Having said all that, it was a no-brainer that I thoroughly enjoyed The Adjustment Bureau.

Damon stars as David Norris, a hotshot young politician with a bright future.  So far his career is off to a great start, and everything is going according to plan.  But whose plan is it?  We all have a destiny.  We also have free will.   David probably thinks that he has largely been in control of his own life.  He made choices, took certain action, and reaped the benefits or suffered the consequences.  Not quite.  If you believe in a higher power you may believe that your story has already been written.  That someone out there has a plan for you and you have a destiny.  If this is true, what happen when your “plan” changes?  In the movie, The Adjustment Bureau is the name given to a mysterious group of five men who monitor the world.  Are they benevolent or nefarious?  That depends on your perspective.  On the one hand they are guardian angels, but on the other hand they are manipulative and self-serving.  When I say they monitor the world, I don’t mean that they make you decide whether or not to get cheese on your burger.  They don’t sweat the small stuff.  But major life decisions like who to marry or where to go to college or what dreams to pursue and what dreams to discard – they have an influence.

As it relates to Matt Damon’s character, it’s easy to see why the Bureau would have an ierest in controlling the life of a young, charismatic, increasingly influential politician.  His Kennedyesque appeal seems almost fateful.  The Adjustment Bureau works at the behest of The Chairman, a Godlike figure who is responsible for crafting a plan for each and every one of us.  He can change the plan, but we can’t.  The Bureau has allowed certain tragedies to befall David, in an effort to mold him into the sort of man who would be driven to make the choices they need him to make.  They don’t absolutely remove all free will, but they go pretty far.  For example, David lost his mother and brother at a young age, and these early tragedies made him lonely.  He grew into a man who craved adulation, favor, and assurances from people.  He is bolstered by applause and the spotlight.  It drives him, and explains why he is suited for politics.  However, things go awry when David threatens to deviate from the plan.  What was supposed to be a chance encounter with a woman named Elise in a bathroom ends up being a defining moment in his life.  The plan is in jeopardy, and the Bureau will stop at nothing to make sure that David stays on track.  When he meets Elise after a disappointing election defeat, her whimsical, carefree personality is just the inspiration he needs for an irreverent speech that winds up propelling him to great political heights.  At least that’s what’s supposed to happen.  David is supposed to meet Elise once, be inspired – and then move on, never to see her again.  When he bumps into her again after a glitch in the plan allows their paths to cross for a second time, all bets are off.  David and Elise were supposed to be together in an earlier version of his plan, but The Chairman changed it at the last minute.  Because they were once destined to be together, David and Elise are drawn together and have an undeniable chemistry.  The Bureau can’t allow them to be together because Elise fills a void in David’s life.  If he had her love, he wouldn’t need the adulation and roar of the crowd that politics provides.

Matt Damon was perfectly cast and his scenes with Emily Blunt displayed a yearning that made me believe they really were in love with each other.  I also enjoyed Anthony Mackie as Harry, the lone member of the Bureau who acts like more of a guardian angel  than puppet master with a voodoo doll.  I could see how this movie may not appeal to everyone, because it is heavy on the love story element.  I don’t want to reduce it to a love story, because I thought it was thought-provoking as well.  I really liked it; you should catch it before it leaves theaters.

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