Matt Damon Wades Through Cosmic Slop in The Adjustment Bureau
Written, directed, and co-produced by George Nolfi (a neophyte helmer whose writing credits include The Bourne Ultimatum and Oceans Twelve), The Adjustment Bureau inflates an early Philip K. Dick story with a typically paranoid conceitour lives are secretly micromanaged by a supernatural bureaucracy of adjustorsinto a cosmological white-collar-thriller-cum-steroidal-rom-com, with Matt Damon as an idealistic young pol fated to someday be president and save the world.
Defeated in his bid to become New Yorks senator, Damon has a mens-room meet-cute with Emily Blunts sassy modern dancer that inspires him to go rogue on his own concession speech and thus emerge positioned as a future candidate. But destiny takes a tumble when an overworked adjustor (Anthony Mackie) dozes and allows Damon to re-encounter Blunt. The so-called Plan is derailed! Worse, the gaffe permits the future messiah to glimpse destinys inner workings: You saw behind a curtain you didnt know existed, explains the most acerbic adjustor (Mad Mens John Slattery).
Closer in spirit to Wings of Desire than Men in Black, The Adjustment Bureau is not without ambition or dorm-room ruminations on free will and predestination. Humans, we learn, blew their chance; twice let off the leash, they blundered into the Dark Ages, the Holocaust, and the Cuban Missile Crisis (while, it may be deduced, the period of well-adjusted determinism, a/k/a the Enlightenment, produced colonization and the slave trade). Now, per St. Augustine, everything must follow the Planincluding its arbitrary regulations.
To that end, the not-quite-omnipotent adjustors can access a network of secret tunnelsopen a door at MOMA, pop out in Yankee Stadiumallowing them to travel faster than the mind can think. Hoping to suspend disbelief, Nolfi enlists his own band of authenticators. Damons candidacy is endorsed by Mayor Bloomberg and parsed on TV by James Carville and Mary Matalin; its more natural for this movie to invoke the presence of Jon Stewart than the name of God.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.