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Senior Shackster
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Title: The Adjustment Bureau
Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt
Directed by: George Nolfi
Written by: George Nolfi (Screenplay), Phillip K. Dick (Novel)
Studio: Universal
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 106 min
Release Date: 6/21/2011 (Blu-Ray)
Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :3.5stars:
Overall: :4stars:

HTS Overall Score:77

“Romantic thriller” may not be a common genre, but The Adjustment Bureau nails it. I don’t often find myself commenting on the chemistry between actors in a film, but the incredible on-screen chemistry between Emily Blunt as Elise and Matt Damon as David Norris is magnificent to behold. I haven’t seen a more convincing portrayal of love at first sight in any recent film, and both stars turn in great performances. While the film does suffer from a few minor pacing issues, the end result is a solidly crafted story that is enjoyable to watch. The cinematography is gorgeous and New York City is used to its maximum potential as the backdrop for this love story. The film has a unique style, well written dialogue, and a good deal of suspense as well. The interesting combination of genres will make this one a great compromise between a “his” movie, and a “hers” movie – and is well worth a viewing if you have not seen it yet. While the subject matter is obviously fictional, those who manage to suspend their disbelief and buy into the core premise (something greater than ourselves controls our destiny) will be wonderfully entertained.


David Norris (Damon) is a young, attractive, up and coming congressman who is in the midst of his first run for a seat in the Senate. His campaign is going incredibly well, and he appears to be the shoe-in winner of the election in a month’s time. Right before the election, a local newspaper runs a story on Norris’ college reunion and a picture of him mooning the crowd. Norris’ ratings plummet and he suddenly goes from front-runner to dead last. On the eve of his defeat, Norris must give a concession speech in the Waldorf-Astoria. Norris goes to the men’s room for some time alone and to collect his thoughts prior to the speech. As he begins to recite and practice his speech, a woman who has been hiding in a stall tells him that he should be himself and not worry about the speechwriter’s words.

Attracted to each other magnetically, Norris and the mysterious woman banter back and forth for a few minutes before kissing suddenly and passionately. Inspired by his encounter with the woman, Norris goes on to deliver a speech that takes the crowd by complete surprise, and instantly catapults him into the favorite spot for the same election in 2010.

The film then cuts to a young man sitting on a bench, who is instructed by his superior, that David Norris must spill his coffee by no later than 7:05AM. The young man dozes off accidentally on the park bench and misses his deadline – resulting in David getting onto his morning bus ride to work on-time. When David enters the bus, he sees the same woman from the restroom sitting by herself. He approaches her, and strikes up conversation, learning her name is Elise, and getting her phone number before exiting the bus for his office. David heads upstairs to his new job (at an investment firm owned and run by his friend, and former campaign manager), only to discover strange men have frozen everyone in place and are examining his boss. When David attempts to run, the men capture him and take him to a cavernous warehouse where they inform him he has just seen behind a curtain he wasn’t supposed to know existed.

Much more below, expand spoiler tag to view...

They call themselves the Adjustment Bureau – a group of agents reporting to a mysterious individual known only as the “Chairman”. The inform David that he must never tell a soul about them, or he will be “reset” – all traces of his memory and personality will be overwritten, he will cease to be the person that he is. They also tell David that he cannot see Elise again, and the man speaking to him, Richardson, burns her phone number in front of David. David is then released.
The young agent from earlier, Harry Mitchell makes contact with David and offers to explain what he can, telling David to meet him on a ferry. David meets the agent and learns more about the Adjustment Bureau, and the “caseworkers” like himself that are assigned to people to keep them “on plan”. David learns that caseworkers aren’t omnipotent nor can they read minds, they simply sense decisions.

David is then released and the film cuts to three years later. David has taken the same bus for three years in a row in the hopes that he might see Elise again. As the bus approaches his office, David sees Elise walking down the sidewalk and runs out to meet her. The magnetic attraction between the two remains and they begin to catch up. Richardson and his men interfere, trying to keep them apart but David refuses to submit, racing across town to meet Elise one more time. During the chase, the Bureau use doors to hop around the city, revealing the ability granted to them by the chairman.

Richardson is frustrated by his failure to stop David, and learns that David and Elise were meant to be together in an earlier revision of the plan. Harry questions whether the plan is always right, and is quickly dismissed. David and Elise spend the evening together and ultimately spend the night together at Elise’s apartment – before admitting to each other in the morning that they’ve never forgotten one another.

The Bureau puts an agent with far more experience and less sympathy on the case, Thompson. Thompson traps David in the warehouse and tries to reason with him, but David is not receptive. Thompson then takes David to Elise’s dance performance, where he allows David to see her getting hurt. He explains that he will not only ruin his future, but hers as well by choosing to stay with her. Heartbroken, David abandons Elise in the hospital.

Eleven months later, David is approaching election day. His Senate run is wildly successful and he is 16 points up in the polls but learns that Elise is going to get married the next day. Harry contacts David to let him know that Thompson was lying when he threatened David, explaining that what Thompson described was only one possible consequence of their relationship. David enlists Harry’s help to outwit Thompson and try to reach Elise before she is married. David must face down the might of the Adjustment Bureau if he is to succeed in attaining true love.


When I saw The Adjustment Bureau in theaters, I remarked to my wife that it wasn’t as sharply focused as I have grown accustomed to in current films. Similarly on the Blu-Ray, I found the level of detail and clarity to be lacking throughout the entirety of the movie, and generally wasn’t impressed by the visuals beyond the beautifully shot backdrop of New York City. Skin tones are accurately presented but are somewhat muted, as is the rest of the palette throughout the film. There seems to be a stylistic choice to dominate the film with grays, blues, whites and generally cool colors to accentuate the mood. Scenes that have David and Emily together tend to have more warm, earthy tones and have a brighter feel - something I assume was a stylistic decision Nolfi made. While the natural 35mm grain structure is intact and present in unaltered form, there does appear to be some minor black crush and graininess in dark scenes. Shadow detail is good to excellent throughout the film and color balance is consistent, if (slightly) altered for stylistic reasons.

This transfer isn't an ultra-sharp demo of Blu-Ray's capabilities - the film was never that good looking even in theaters. Nolfi's stylistic decisions resulted in a somewhat less detailed film with a much deeper plane of focus, and this is retained in the Blu-Ray transfer. I suspect the picture won't wow anybody, but for staying true to the Director's intent and looking the way it did in the cinema - this transfer is very good.


The DTS-HD Master Audio mix that accompanies The Adjustment Bureau is heavily dialogue and score focused – atmospheric and surround activity takes a backseat to the more prominent elements of the sound design, but this never detracts from the overall experience. LFE content is scarce, but has appropriate impact and heft when present. The overall clarity of dialogue is superb with no veiling or muddy sound. The score to this film by Thomas Newman is extremely good, and really stole the show as far as I’m concerned. The score drives the visceral emotion that the lead characters convey so well on screen and really connects with the viewer. Overall, while this is far from ideal demo material it still manages to showcase the advantages of lossless audio from start to finish, especially in terms of rich, organic and accurately represented dialogue.


While not all the extras are 1080p (1080i for a few), there are several thoroughly enjoyable features here, such as “Becoming Elise” which explains the tortuous process Emily Blunt had to endure when learning how to dance in a period of two months. The interactive feature, “Labyrinth of Doors: Interactive Map of New York” was a tad annoying to navigate, but presents useful tidbits of interview footage when a location is selected.

  • THE LABYRINTH OF DOORS: INTERACTIVE MAP OF NEW YORK – Explore the bustling metropolis of New York City as only a member of the Bureau can: using the intricate network of portals to leap from location to location. Each location will trigger a short video pod, either with a behind-the-scenes look at that location with cast and crew or a scene from the film that took place there.
  • BD-LIVE ™ —Access the BD-Live ™ Center through your Internet-connected player to get even more content, watch the latest trailers and more.
  • pocket BLU™: The groundbreaking pocket BLU™ app uses iPhone ® , iPod® touch, Android™, PC and Macintosh to work seamlessly with a network-connected Blu-ray™ player.
  • DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES – Six scenes totaling seven minutes, with some interesting additional dialogue.
  • LEAPING THROUGH NEW YORK – An inside look at how the production team filmed David Norris’ (Matt Damon) race to the courthouse, featuring interviews with Damon, director George Nolfi, special effects coordinator Mark Russell and producers Michael Hackett and Chris Moore.
  • DESTINED TO BE – The Adjustment Bureau provided Matt Damon with his first opportunity to play a true romantic lead in a feature film. Co-star Emily Blunt, director George Nolfi and Damon himself reflect on this new role for the star and the relationship between David Norris and Blunt’s character, Elise Sellas.
  • BECOMING ELISE – A look at Emily Blunt’s dance training for the role of Elise. Blunt, Matt Damon, George Nolfi and Blunt’s dance choreographer discuss her transformation from slender actress to well-muscled athlete.

I consider The Adjustment Bureau to be a great movie and enjoyed it thoroughly both in the theater, and at home. While the quality of this release from an AV standpoint wasn’t quite as good as other recent titles (True Grit, Battle: LA, Tron), it is still a highly entertaining story that is splendidly acted. If you’re looking for a movie you can convince your wife to watch but won’t turn you away either, this is the one. The convincing love story, and electric chemistry between the leads is a refreshing change in the realm of on-screen romance, and is sure to impress chick-flick lovers and romantic saps alike. For the macho men out there reading this, remember that this is a thriller as well and includes a great deal of running, chasing and intrigue. The film does raise a lot of interesting questions and discussion points as a result of the metaphysical theme the Bureau represents, and is sure to lead to a lot of engaging conversation if you watch it with friends.

The Adjustment Bureau may not be a cinematic work of art, but it is a highly entertaining film that viewers of all sorts can enjoy. While I won't encourage you to run out and buy it, this one is definitely worth a rental at the very least. Recommended.


1,546 Posts
Thanks for the review Dave! I'm a fan of Matt Damon's and Emily Blunt's so I will have to check this one out.

1,784 Posts
Good Review Mr. Dave.
You spell it out pretty well. You are spot on when you mention that the love story side for some of us saps is stunning. I have to say the chemistry between Matt and Emily is as good as any I have ever seen. They are a modern Bogart/Bacall, Tracy/Hepburn etc.
The emotion in finding true love is something many of us may never experience let along having the chance to put it to the test these stars do. I find this portion of the film brilliant. Yes the ending and the lead up to the end can be a bit over the top, but I forgive the movie for that. Evidently, the future may not be written in stone.....
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