The Adjustment Bureau (Contains Spoilers)

Proving that sci-fi doesn’t always need to have huge budget effects, The Adjustment Bureau essentially does for Choice and Fate what Inception did for Dreams. This is really the kind of film that’s more likely to make you paranoid than fight a galactic empire!

Based on a Philip K. Dick short story and written/directed by George Nolfi, The Adjustment Bureau follows David Norris (Matt Damon), a congressman in New York who meets the charming, beautiful and impulsive Elise (Emily Blunt) who, from a chance meeting, helps him make the speech of his career and they instantly fall in love. Except, it wasn’t by “chance”, it was planned through action and consequence, and when they accidentally meet the next day by mistake it sets off a ripple effect which has to be corrected by the people that keep track and create these events. These people are the men from The Adjustment Bureau – the people who keep lives going “according to plan”. They tell David that he can never see Elise again as it is not part of his plan, and he can’t speak of them to anyone less he get his memory wiped out. But after another chance meeting with Elise, he starts to defy The Bureau and risk everything he has for the girl he loves. Eventually, with the help of his “case worker” from The Bureau (Anthony Mackie), he finds out that his “chance” meetings with Elise isn’t by chance at all, but instead is ripples of past plans correcting themselves. David then plans to beat The Bureau at their own game and take it to the top to create his own destiny with Elise.

The ad campaign for The Adjustment Bureau says that it’s “Bourne meets Inception”.  I’ve got to say, I don’t think this is really accurate. There are certain elements to The Adjustment Bureau which are similar to Inception (like dealing with peoples minds and the way people perceive the world they live in), and it’s similar to The Bourne Identity in the way Matt Damon is in it. But other than that, The Adjustment Bureau has an originality of its own.

The Adjustment Bureau comes across more like a romance story with sci-fi elements in it than a full on science fiction film. The main focus of the story is the developing romance between David and Elise, but this is a trigger for the sci-fi elements to come into play around that, which I quite liked. I also liked how The Adjustment Bureau is set in a real-world setting, and there’s little need for CGI during the action scenes, so it’s very much a more thought-provoking kind of science fiction.

The big mystery of the film is the men from The Bureau – It’s never explained exactly who or what the men are, except they’ve existed for centuries, controlling the destiny of mankind, stepping in when the world needed correcting, and have books that can map people’s lives according to their choices and consequences.  Something I liked was that not everything about The Bureau is revealed in one go. Instead it’s an on-going reveal – for instance, the relevance of their hats is only revealed towards the end when David has to wear one in order to slip through doors to different destinations, and how for some reason it’s harder for them to predict actions over water.

The Adjustment Bureau also has some fantastic acting. I thought Matt Damon was very good as usual, and Blunt is instantly likeable as her ballerina character. But what made The Adjustment Bureau for me was Terence Stamp as Thompson, the higher power at The Bureau who steps in to assume control of the case. He was completely fantastic and made the best performance of the film.

I found The Adjustment Bureau to be the kind of film that creates an interesting storyline which is both thought provoking and paranoia inducing at the same time without the need for CGI heavy scenes. So, The Adjustment Bureau gets 9 out of 10 for ingenuity, and its ability to make you strongly consider exactly why you missed that bus this morning…



  1. Ha, I havent seen this movie but I love your last line about the bus, although I don’t take the bus. I should add it to my netflicks!

    • Definitely check it out. Like I said, its not really like Inception, but it does deal with things about the mind and the way we perceive reality and such, so its definitely very interesting in that sense. I think its in a similar vein to Inception, but more for people who don’t want to wrap their heads around paradox theories!! hahaha!

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