This week I was invited to a sneak-preview of the upcoming Matt Damon film, The Adjustment Bureau. I’ve been looking forward to this film since I first saw a preview at it many months ago. I then started growing concerned as it seemed to pretty much vanish after that preview which is rarely a good sign.
The film has a wonderful concept. The idea is that the world has a plan. That plan is laid out by powers well beyond our pay grade and, like all plans, not fool-proof. When something goes awry the Adjustment Bureau steps in to get the plan back on track.
Matt Damon plays an up-and-coming politician who, despite some standard personality flaws, seems destined for greatness. Then one day he manages to go off-plan by heading for a bus and the Bureau is there to make sure he doesn’t get there. However, due to a complication he indeed catches the bus and in this one instance meets the girl of his dreams played by Emily Blunt. This chance meeting apparently has all sorts of ripple effects with regard to the plan so it’s essential that the two not continue but love, as always, has other plans and other powers all its own.
The concept, for me, was thought-provoking, original and, I thought, brilliant. The treatment the film gives it falls very short of my expectations.
First there’s the rather surreal nature of the way the Bureau functions. For a group so aware of everything that’s going on they seem entirely unprepared for Damon’s actions several times in the film. Then there’s the bit about all of their power being housed in fedoras. Yeah, you read that right. Without their hats they’re powerless. I can’t believe I even have to write that.
There’s even a scene I can’t believe made it past the editing process. The main Bureau team is an all-white affair except for this one black guy who seems to empathize with Damon’s plight and treats him compassionately where everyone else treats him like a pawn. At one point Damon turns to him and asks, “What is it about you that’s so different from the others?” You could hear several people in theater whisper, “He’s black?”
The film has so much potential but it never realizes any of it. The acting is solid and Emily Blunt looks terrific and she dominated every scene. She’s got star quality written all over her. I should say it’s a good thing it’s not literally written all over her or we’d have been able to see much of it for ourselves. Most of her wardrobe includes extremely wide-open tops that demand you stare at her well-presented breasts. It was actually a bit distracting and I don’t think that was the idea.
The finale was quite unsatisfying. I can’t really say much more about it. It just sort of ends quickly without any fanfare or any big moment of amazing realization. Perhaps we got to see the film in preparation for a last round of editing but I suspect this one is simply going to be beyond repair.