If you’ve caught any advertisements for “The Adjustment Bureau,” you’ve got a fair idea of what it’s about: unknown forces secretly cause humans to make tiny mistakes, or adjustments, altering the path of our future and keeping our fate where it’s supposed to be.
This could have been a great premise for either a fun sci-fi action flick or a truly thought-provoking examination of the concept of fate versus free will. Unfortunately, the movie fails to do either of those things and is quickly lost in an ocean of plot holes.
Let’s just start with the beginning. Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) sits on a bench and is instructed by his boss to make David Norris (Matt Damon), an up-and-coming politician, spill his coffee.
We soon learn that Mitchell and his boss, Richardson, are supernatural caseworkers for the ominous Adjustment Bureau and if Norris doesn’t spill his coffee at exactly the right time, his fate will be changed forever and he won’t become president like the master plan indicates. Okay, we’re already swimming in deep water here and we’re only about 20 minutes into the movie, but try to stay with me.
It’s at this point that Mitchell, just before he needs to spill the coffee, dozes off on the park bench and misses his opportunity to spill it. That’s right — this caseworker or angel (whatever they’re supposed to be), who controls the fate of billions of people accidentally took a snoozer on a park bench and has messed up the future of the world. I’d hate to see what happens when they have to take a sick day.
Mitchell wakes up, realizes his mistake, and sprints after the bus trying to board it, presumably still trying to spill the coffee even though he’s a couple of minutes late. Here’s where the first unbelievably huge plot hole enters. Mitchell chases after the bus for several blocks on foot yelling for it to stop.
Finally, when he decides he can’t catch it he sticks out his hand and literally magics the coffee into spilling. Now, I know that magic is not a verb, however I find it hard to describe it any other way.
Mitchell sticks out his hand, the bus rocks and the coffee spills — that’s it. Now here’s my point: if he could just will the coffee to spill and it does, why wouldn’t he do it immediately when he woke up?
Why waste precious minutes where fate is slipping off its track like a mudslide and sprinting after the bus when all you had to do was stick out your hand and it happens? Of course, though, it’s already too late and fate is changed forever allowing the rest of the film to unfold. This, in essence, is the worst thing about the movie.
Seemingly every problem that arose could be answered with,”Well, just magic it away!” Furthermore, these powers are never explained, they only appear conveniently when the writers had backed themselves into a corner.
That’s only the first 30 minutes of the movie. As one could imagine, the holes in the plot only deepen as the film continues. Even if one ignores the plot holes, the film does not have much going for it. Both Damon and Blunt’s performances are completely forgettable and the two had no chemistry together.
The cinematography was average, and the clichés were bountiful. Men in suits? Must be bad guys. Kiss a stranger? Must be love. Meet stranger twice? Must be true fate. Who knows? Maybe the men from the Adjustment Bureau are somehow making me write this article right now so no one sees the movie — but I have a feeling they dozed off.
Reach reviewer Nathan Hoffman at Nathan.Hoffman@usd.edu.