The Adjustment Bureau: Matt Damon Versus the Brain-Erasers

In Bourne Ultimatum screenwriter George Nolfi's directorial debut, Matt Damon plays David Norris, a congressman rocketing to the front of a Senate race, apparently on the strength of charisma. He cute-meets enigmatic dancer Elise (Emily Blunt), but after a deeply romantic, impulsive kiss, Elise disappears. The would-be couple meet again by chance, and dude actually gets digits—only to be soon accosted by members of a highly bureaucratic squad of divine interveners (including Anthony Mackie and John Slattery), working on Earth to make sure humans don't use their pesky free will to deviate from the blueprint for humanity. These "adjustors" explain that a continued courtship "isn't part of the plan," and warn David that they'll be watching him at all times to make sure he stays away from Elise. Should he tell anyone what he's just been told, Slattery intones, almost mock-ominously, "We'll erase your brain." The conspiracy fueling The Adjustment Bureau—fairly complicated in terms of mechanics if not meaning, relayed via nearly nonstop expository dialogue and then essentially discarded very late in the game—poses a somewhat less than urgent threat. But there is some pleasure to be had here: Nolfi's predilection for old-school cinematic technique over newfangled excess is refreshing and sometimes ingenious. And Damon and Blunt conjure a convincing chemistry—which helps alleviate the drone of countless scenes of people explaining shit.

 
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