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Poor planning

Although I appreciate it is always hard to come down from the Oscars and that special, magical tingle in the air — if I hadn’t turned in after MasterChef, as I always do, I would have certainly stayed up all night to watch — it’s time to get back to business and this week’s big film The Adjustment Bureau, which could do with a significant amount of adjusting itself.

5 March 2011

12:00 AM

5 March 2011

12:00 AM

Although I appreciate it is always hard to come down from the Oscars and that special, magical tingle in the air — if I hadn’t turned in after MasterChef, as I always do, I would have certainly stayed up all night to watch — it’s time to get back to business and this week’s big film The Adjustment Bureau, which could do with a significant amount of adjusting itself.

Although I appreciate it is always hard to come down from the Oscars and that special, magical tingle in the air — if I hadn’t turned in after MasterChef, as I always do, I would have certainly stayed up all night to watch — it’s time to get back to business and this week’s big film The Adjustment Bureau, which could do with a significant amount of adjusting itself.

It’s preposterously silly, but that’s kind of OK. Aren’t we all preposterously silly at times? Isn’t Gregg preposterously silly when he says ‘cooking doesn’t get tougher than this’, even though it so could if you only had one leg, say, and then your hip fell out and your oven went on the blink? So preposterous silliness is fine, I’m all for it, but when preposterous silliness starts taking itself seriously, boy, are you in trouble, and that is the trouble here.


The Adjustment Bureau is fun and rather engaging until you start thinking, hang on, we’re actually meant to believe in all this? It’s not ironic? After that, it’s plain annoying, tiresome and dopey, and it just sort of drags itself to the end, which would, at least, be an original end if only it weren’t one of those furiously paced races against time. Do they make it? I can’t say, as that would be a spoiler, but if I were to think ‘yes’ and ‘how could I have doubted it?’ you’d certainly be heading in the right direction.

Now, what do I need to tell you, because that is how these things work? OK, Matt Damon stars as David Norris, a New York congressman on the up. I don’t know. Does Matt Damon do anything for you? Does he? Seriously? You don’t find him too blandly doughy? Fair enough. So, we have Damon as this upcoming politician who, one evening, has a brief encounter with a beautiful dancer, Elise (Emily Blunt), and instantly falls in love. He knows she is his soul mate, and vice versa. So far, so good, as the chemistry between Damon and Blunt is rather juicy, and I do love juicy chemistry. (In fact, if you were ever to ask me to choose between juicy chemistry and MasterChef, I don’t think I could.)

The trouble is, though, and this soon becomes apparent, they are not meant to be together. Supernatural forces are afoot in the form of a mysterious cabal of suit-clad, fedora-wearing men who turn up to ‘adjust’ human life to fit something called ‘The Plan’, and a romance between David and Elise isn’t in ‘The Plan’. I don’t know where these fedora-wearing, Mad Men-styled agents come from exactly, or how they travel, but think it probably isn’t by the M3 which, in my experience, has yet to take any short cuts thought the space-time continuum.

Anyway, David must promise never to see Elise again, or what? Their aspirations will be trashed, and he will fail to make it to the Oval Office just as she will fail to make it as a…ahem…great modern dancer. (If you want to see some totally awful contemporary dance, this film might actually suit you; God bless Emily Blunt and all who sail in her, but she is no Natalie Portman.) The film could, I suppose, have provided an interesting take on free will versus fate, but it moves at such a pedestrian pace, and is so flawed narratively it never takes off and just stumbles along, clumsily.

I don’t know how films are made exactly, as I’m much too busy going to bed directly after MasterChef, but doesn’t anyone on a film set ever say, ‘Look, have we properly thought this through?’ What, for example, are the limits to the agents’ telepathic and physical powers? Why do they reveal themselves to the Damon character? If they can adjust people’s minds, as they can, with what looks like a vacuum hose, why don’t they make David fall out of love with Elise? No idea. There are plot holes within plot holes within plot holes, and although acres of raw exposition are provided — particularly by Terence Stamp, who plays a senior enforcer and looks bemused to be doing so — nothing ever makes proper sense.

Directed by George Nolfi, who wrote some of the Bourne scripts, this is a kind of Inception for those who have yet to move beyond Topsy and Tim, and while I also have nothing against Topsy and Tim — didn’t they have a lovely time, that day they went to the seaside? — I’d probably give this a miss. Yes, that should be your plan, and it’s a good one.


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