Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spotlight: "The Adjustment Bureau"

Last week Pinoyexchange invited me to watch the press screening of the movie "The Adjustment Bureau" at the Solar Entertainment office in Makati which is luckily just a five minute walk from where I work. I had a great time and looking forward to more press screenings haha. Here's my review of the movie which will be posted soon at Pinoyexchange.com :)

The Adjustment Bureau” is a solid movie that delivers the right amount of thrill and entertainment that you wouldn't feel like you wasted two hours of your life. But if you're looking for the next “Inception” then you might get disappointed.

I haven't read Phillip K. Dick's “The Adjustment Team”, the short story where this movie is based on, when I watched the movie but nevertheless the premise is already intriguing enough to draw me into. David Norris (Matt Damon) is a US congressman who meets Elise (Emily Blunt), a beautiful woman whom he immediately falls smitten with after they share a moment on the night where David is about to give a pivotal speech for his political career. David and Elise's blossoming romance was thwarted when a mysterious group of men abducts David and warns him that he should never see Elise ever again. Apparently, these group of men called the Adjustment Bureau are tasked to “adjust” your destiny according to the plan of the “Chairman”. They even have a book containing a map-like illustration of a person's destiny moving in real time. The mysterious men eventually let David go but not after burning the piece of paper where Elise wrote her number. But David ignored the warning and tried to search for Elise to no avail. After 3 years, David found Elise on a chance encounter and this time around David will not allow anything to set them apart even if facing the mysterious destiny-adjusting men once again.

“The Adjustment Bureau” makes a strong case on destiny versus free will but while I found the premise intriguing the script was dragged down by a weakly written conflict. There are contrived plot devices just to set up the central conflict like why would a prominent congressman take public transport without security or staff accompanying him? Why is David more bothered with the thought of not seeing the woman (which is basically just a stranger) ever again than finding out shocking secrets about human destiny? I have no problem with a love story as the driving force for the main character to fight the “Chairman's plan” but the build up was simply not compelling enough.

The performances were all fine but nothing noteworthy. Damon and Blunt offer enough chemistry to make you believe that their characters' love is true and not just a passionate affection. The movie has a witty dialogue where the cast especially Damon delivers quite well. Anthony Mackie and John Slattery did a great job and their scenes with Damon provided the movie a snappy repartee. Terence Stamp as Thompson, a veteran member of the Adjustment Bureau, was an engaging “antagonist”.

The cinematography and visual effects are top notch particularly the “traveling through doors” sequences. New York, which plays an integral part in the story, was utilized quite well with a showcase of the city's stunning scenery during the well-executed chase scenes towards the end of the movie.

“The Adjustment Bureau” is a mix of suspense, romance, and science fiction with some religious and political undertones on the side. While the result is an entertaining movie, “The Adjustment Bureau” could have achieved more if managed to focus on one aspect alone or at least gave more emphasis on the aspects where it worked.

"The Adjustment Bureau" will be shown in the Philippines on March 4, 2011.

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