Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

I was excited to see The Adjustment Bureau because I knew it dealt with the world in a matrix-y kind of way, not that I would compare it to The Matrix at all. It's not the same, but it carried that same sense of wrongness with the world, of things being arranged beyond human control. It actually reminded me a little bit of Dark City, though it wasn't nearly as...well, dark.

I ended up being disappointed in the movie. Perhaps I wanted it to be a little darker and deeper than it was, to have a greater sense of an evil force at work controlling humankind. The "bad guys," or the world adjusters, came off as more of an angelic intervention by human-looking nonhumans who take their orders from the Chairman...or you might as well call him “the man upstairs.” The movie is never clear on who they are, so for the sake of this review's clarity, we'll call them angels from now on.

And if you've read my other reviews, you know what I think of putting angels in fiction. Normally, it doesn't work for me, and this was no exception. Though the angels were wrong sometimes, I never got a sense that what they were doing was evil, and to be honest, I wanted it to be evil. I wanted the protagonist lovers to be fighting for a good reason, other than just the right to control their own destinies.

What I really didn't like was that at the end, after the whole movie talks about the Chairman's Plan, (spoilers here) the protagonists end up following an original Plan that had previously been scrapped. So, in my opinion, they never controlled their destinies after all. They just followed the Plan that was meant to be in the first place. Disappointing. As for who they say the Chairman is, more unsatisfactory, vague, mumbo jumbo answers.

I wanted to like the movie, and I wish I could give it something. My husband liked the dialog between the main characters, but to be honest, it's already left my mind, having seen it a few days ago, and I can't tell you my personal opinion. I do remember discussing with him that we understood the man better than the woman, that we didn't really get her motivation or see why she would give everything up for this guy.

This movie is based on a short story: "Adjustment Team," by Philip K. Dick. I've seen some of the other movies made from his stories, and I enjoyed those better: The Minority Report and Paycheck. The Adjustment Bureau is an interesting portrayal of what it means to have free will, but maybe the story was lost in translation from paper to movie. Perhaps my husband will comment on why he enjoyed it a little more than I did.

But if you're looking for something with more tension and real bad guys, I think Dark City is better.

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