The never-ending debate between whether we are the unwilling subjects of destiny or individuals with free will in control of our fates underpins The Adjustment Bureau, a romantic-fantasy take on an old Philip K. Dick short story that no one has read but the angry Dick nerds who are the source of most of the negative reviews you may've read about this movie. Ignore them. Listen to me.
Matt Damon plays a New York Congressman whose hopes for advancing to the Senate are dashed at the last moment by a minor scandal. Preparing to give his concession speech, he encounters wedding crasher Emily Blunt in the same hotel - because people get married on a Tuesday night, wait, what? - and in their brief meeting he is so smitten with this woman that he goes out and gives a concession speech that sets him up for greater things.
A few years later, two men discuss Damon and the need to spill coffee on his shirt. However, the one tasked with making him miss his bus dozes off and he makes the bus, finding this mysterious woman on there. They chit-chat and things seem fine until he arrives at work and catches a crew of men apparently erasing the minds of the frozen-in-place folks at the office. He runs, but is caught and has the rules explained to him: He must never see her again or else his mind will be erased by these Men In Magic Fedoras.
Who are the MIMFs and how do they control the world to an extent is the tricky part to discuss because to know too much going in spoils the fun. Suffice to say there is a Chairman in charge of the Plan for Damon's (and everyone's) life and if he just goes along, everything works out well for everyone. But what if he doesn't? What changes and what is gained or lost?
The script by director George Nolfi manages to cover just about every question or loophole that could crop up and he tells the story with alacrity, culminating in a whirlwind chase through the MIMFs portal system that allows them to fast-travel around New York City. One unplugged plot hole that really bugged me though was how Damon has never had a woman in his life. We're supposed to believe a politician isn't a craven power monger, OK; but he doesn't have a wife, ex-wife, dead wife, fiancee, nothing? The significant other who may be a complication for Blunt comes and goes only when needed to muck up the plot.
Damon is a good choice for the role and there is a chemistry between him and Blunt that helps bull past the little plot niggles which pop up. The suporting cast including John Slattery, Terrance Stamp, and Anthony Mackie are also quite good. However, the meaty core of story that you'll probably end up discussing with co-viewers is how much of our lives are just chance or the result of divine intervention. It could make you paranoid if not for Nolfi allowing for the element of chance in a world of omnipotent and omnipresent beings.
Balancing the mix between heavy philosophy, romantic desire, and grand scheme destiny, The Adjustment Bureau is a great date flick for couples who want to get deep into the other's headspace regarding fate and fortune. Highly recommended.
Score: 9/10. Catch a matinee.