Monday, July 25, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

Why are movies like The Matrix and The Truman Show so successful? Is it because we think that reality is not as it seems? Is it possible that we are not the master of our own fate? Are there forces beyond our control at work in our lives? The Adjustment Bureau joins a long list of films that explore these issues.

Marketed as a romantic thriller, The Adjustment Bureau stars Matt Damon as David Morris, a rising political star, who is running for a Senate seat from the state of New York. After a breaking story about a past unflattering incident in his life, Morris’ political career is put on hold. On the night of the election, he meets a mysterious woman who will forever change his life. After a romantic kiss from Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), he is inspired to give a compelling and honest concession speech that will position him as the front runner in the next election.

After returning back to the public sector, he once again bumps into the mysterious Elise. He realizes that they have some sort of connection and gets her phone number. Arriving at his office, he finds his best friend, Charlie Trayor (Michael Kelly), in a state of suspension surrounded by unfamiliar men all wearing hats. In fact, everyone at the office is unresponsive as if they were suspended in time. The strange men are examining and appear to be probing Charlie’s head.

After a quick chase, David is apprehended by the men in hats. Here’s where things get to get even stranger if that’s possible. They inform David they are from the Adjustment Bureau and warn him to speak to no one about what he has seen. If he does, they will reset his memory, and it will be erased. Furthermore, they will not allow him to have any further contact with his potential love interest Elise. Apparently, David saw what is behind the black curtain. His fate is not in his hands but is controlled by the men in hats. They talk about The Plan, which has been written by the chairman, whom we never meet.

One man, Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie), from the Adjustment Bureau takes a liking to David. He offers assistance and tells him he has met the chairman and knows him by many names. There is the implication in this film that the men who wear hats could be angels, and the chairman is God.

By the director’s own account, he has left that up to the viewers to determine how they will interpret this film. In a rather broad sweeping manner, The Adjustment Bureau deals with rather complex theological issues, such as free will and predestination. Is the chairman omnipotent and involved with the affairs of men?

The real question in the film is will David and Elise find a way to be together? What about David’s political career? And why is the Adjustment Bureau so determined to keep them apart.

I love movies such as The Matrix and The Truman Show that deal with the concepts of reality, control, fate, and choice. The Adjustment Bureau may very well exceed both of these films in terms of it’s heart, compassion and optimism for the future.

This is an exceptional film, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Everything is totally believable and plausible. One thing for sure, The Adjustment Bureau will give you plenty to think about. Are we as much in control as we think we are? However, you are in control to make the decision to see this movie. So exercise your free will.

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