Not a Movie Snob - The Adjustment Bureau

Posted on Friday, March 25, 2011 at 05:00 PM

"When all else fails..."

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau is a deep, multilayered story about free will and fighting for what is most important to you. It's kind of a romance, but with lots of chase scenes, and has a strong theological backbone running through it.

Matt Damon plays a young man running for the senate of New York, Emily Blunt is a girl he meets after he loses his first campaign. Damon and Blunt have a 'love at first sight' encounter and subsequently (over the next couple years) keep getting pushed back together. The only problem is, the Adjustment Bureau, a group of people (or whatever they are) who adjust things in people's lives in order to keep them moving according to the 'Chairman's' (see God) plan, are trying to keep them apart.

The movie is actually a hodgepodge of different genres and themes, as political movie turns into romance, turns into suspense, drama, chase and sci-fi. It can be a little disconcerting for some viewers, as soon as you get used to one genre, the film switches gears on you. I enjoyed that aspect though, it kept things feelings fresh and moving along at a steady pace. And for that reason it's also not an easily marketable film, which probably explains why it sat, completed, in limbo for so long before finally getting a release date.

I was consistently reminded of another similarly themed film called Dark City, about these underground 'people' who every night at midnight stop time and go into the world and rearrange things and set people on different paths and then sit back and watch the results. That film was definitely much more sci-fi and much less romance though, and it was devoid of any theological considerations.

One thing that impressed me about this film was how often it referenced Christianity and used biblical themes to tell its story. The Adjustment Bureau characters refer to themselves at one point as angels and to their boss as someone they call the Chairman, but that we have many names for (who could that be). One of them also mentions at one point that the Chairman has a plan for everyone, but that they only ever see a part of it. There's also an intriguing and, truth be told, pretty brilliant conversation about free will and why the Chairman felt the need to step in and take over the reins from humanity in order to basically save us from ourselves. 

Don't go in there thinking you're going to be sitting down to a bible study though. The film presents these topics in a very entertaining 'Hollywood' fashion and doesn't get preachy, and the theological themes aren't so pronounced that there aren't still sizeable differences to be seen. The main one obviously being that the Christian bible says humans do have free will and this movie says we don't. Regardless, it gives you something to think about.

The end of The Adjustment Bureau is unique for me personally. It's a good ending, one I normally wouldn't be into, but that works wonders for this movie and fits the story-arc perfectly. It leaves you feeling satisfied and contemplating the entertainment, but also the profundity of the picture. I don't know about you, but I'd pay $12 for something like that. In fact, I'd pay it twice.

Rating: ****½



NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to