The Adjustment Bureau (2011)


run time: 106 mins
rated: PG
considered: Fantasy, Romance, Thriller
director: George Nolfi
starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, Michael Kelly, Jon Slattery, Jon Stewart, Terence Stamp, Donnie Keshawarz

movie summary: David Norris (Matt Damon) is a hot-shot politician from New York running for the US Senate. After an embarrassing loss on election night, he meets a beautiful stranger hiding out in the men’s washroom. David instantly falls in love with Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) because he feels connected with her like he’s never felt with anyone before. The pair share a passionate kiss and don’t meet again for a few months; after exchanging numbers the next time they meet, the Adjustment Bureau steps into David’s life to make sure the pair never meet again. David loves Elise more than anything and will let nothing stop him from seeing her again.

The Adjustment Bureau is an organization that monitors the world and everyone in it. Their main purpose is to keep everyone on the course set out for them by the Chairman. We don’t know who the Chairman is; it could be a male, female, a God, or just a figment of our imagination. Members of the bureau don’t even know who the chairman is, but their job is simply to keep everything moving forward according to the plan. Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) is a member of the Bureau and watches David every day of his life; he has a continuously updated book based on David’s decisions every day. On the morning that David bumps into Elise again, Harry is asleep on a park bench waiting for David to get a coffee. The pair meet on the bus forcing Harry to run it down by chance because David is veering off course. This new ripple in David’s life causes him to be early for work, so when he enters the office, he finds his co-worker Charlie Traynor (Michael Kelly) frozen in place and under the influence of the Adjustment Bureau. Richardson (John Slattery) is one of the head officers of the Bureau, and when he realizes that David has seen the Bureau in action, he orders him to be kidnapped and reset, which means his mind gets erased, and he ends up a crazy person for the rest of his life. David pleads his case of why he wants to be Elise, but Richardson will have none of it since it’s not part of his plans. He burns Elise’s number and sets David free, threatening him if he reveals anything about the Bureau to anyone.

For the next three years, David takes the same bus to work every day and searches around every corner for Elise. David is not happy in life even though his political career has taken off, and he is a potential candidate for the Presidency. By chance, he spots Elise walking down the street one morning and hurries off the bus. She is upset that he never called but agrees to go for a walk to hear his story. David tries his best to explain the events that lead to losing her number while she laughs off his attempts to find her. The pair share breakfast before the Bureau gets word that the pair are together and head to the diner to break up their morning. David needs to go give a speech while Elise has dance practice, he vows to go see her practice, but the Bureau put up roadblocks, cut phone lines, and crash taxi cabs to prevent him from getting there. After struggling to make it across town, David finally watches Elise dance, and according to the Bureau, it will be a turning point in his life because he will stop at nothing to be with her now. Richardson has dropped the ball on the case, so it is going up to one of his superiors, Thompson (Terence Stamp), who always succeeds at breaking up new plans and making sure the original ones proceed like they were meant to.

David and Elise go out for a walk, hit up the local dance club, and then go back to his place to spend the night. Thompson watches them sleep before spinning his plan into action the next morning. After an interview on the Daily Show, Thompson splits the pair up by leaving a false message for Elise; he gets David alone to explain the consequences of his pursuit of Elise. David said he doesn’t care about their plans and won’t deny how he feels about her. Thompson informs him that he will become President one day, but he won’t get that far in his political career if he stays with Elise. David brushes it aside until Thompson reveals that if David truly wants to be with her, it will also crush her dreams and plans. He rethinks his stance as the two make their way across town to Elise’s ballet performance, where she falls and sprains her ankle. David now knows that the Bureau is seriously not going to allow them to be together, so he says goodbye to Elise at the hospital.

Eleven months go by, and David is on the campaign trail for another crack at a Senate seat. Charlie hands him a newspaper that shows Elise is the best ballet dancer in the country and is about to get married. David is encouraged to take a few days off to deal with this situation when he finds Harry to get advice on stopping the wedding. Harry warns that the plans don’t call for them to be together and that David is facing severe consequences just to be with her. David doesn’t care and stays up all night with Harry planning a way to get to her before the wedding takes place. When David makes a run for it in the morning, the Bureau spin into action to prevent his plan and future from getting destroyed.


my thoughts: When the trailer for this movie came out in early 2010, I was hooked. My hope was this was going to be one of the most romantic stories I’ve ever seen, and the hopeless romantic in me wanted this to be my favourite movie forever. It was scheduled to be released the weekend of my birthday in September 2010, but the studio decided to push it back to March 2011; I was crushed, but the delay just built up my anticipation! I can still remember I booked the afternoon off from work to catch the first showing on Friday afternoon and was sincerely impressed with the story, the concept, the romance, and the actors/actresses.

The Adjustment Bureau is based on a short sci-fi story from the 1950s, I looked it up years ago, and that’s all I remember. Even though I am not a huge sci-fi fan, the part that sold many other people and me is the romance angle. In 2011 a movie about an organization that monitors the world and keeps everything going according to plan didn’t sound that appealing even with the right actors and actresses but throw in a sexy couple who fight the organization to find love and happiness; now that’s a hit. My argument to this is casting and storylines would be The Hunger Games. Do you really think it would be as popular on the big screen without Jennifer Lawrence? So with that in mind, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have amazing chemistry together on-screen. They look like the perfect couple, and the little interaction we get between the two is so great most women will sigh to have a relationship. They both have great smiles, funny personalities, and an undying attraction to one another. Damon impresses me the most because he has the whole political world at his feet but is willing to throw it all away to be with a girl he once shared a passionate kiss with. His undying devotion to finding her is straight from a Hollywood script since it appears that romance is dead in real life. Their relationship gives people hope that you just know it when you find the one, and you will fight tooth and nail to make it work against all odds.

On the flip side of the romance part of the story, the Adjustment Bureau is extremely creepy. They watch your every move and know the majority of your thoughts. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason, that there is a God, and he has a plan for each of us, but I don’t believe the Bureau is following me to work every day. (I will admit I am always late, maybe if they were real, I could totally just start blaming them.) Anyway, back to my point, the Bureau is very well utilized in the movie; they appear to be businessmen compared to guardian angels or spirits. They look and act just like us while wearing a hat gives them the ability to travel through doors.

There’s a good message presented in the movie about fate, destiny, plans, the future, and free will. It makes you ponder exactly what is planned and what is not, reminds us that every decision we make has rippled throughout the rest of our lives. The Adjustment Bureau is the rare fantasy romance movie that leaves you wondering if your life’s current direction can be changed if you are willing to fight hard enough for it.

my star rating: 9 out 10 7.1 out 10 72% out 100%
metascore: 60/100 3 out 4

10 thoughts on “The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

    1. Thanks! I was excited to see her in the trailer looking all badass and sweaty ;). I am going to see it tonight after work, can’t wait!!

  1. Good review. It’s a bit goofy at times, but it’s interesting to see what they can do with this premise. It doesn’t always work, but Blunt and Damon’s chemistry at least gives it more emotion.

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