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The Adjustment Bureau (3 stars)

Philip K Dick-inspired sci-fi thriller starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt

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The Adjustment Bureau

(12A) 99min

The work of Philip K Dick has inspired some of cinema’s great sci-fi films, from Blade Runner to Minority Report via Total Recall. The Adjustment Bureau, which is derived from one of the author’s short stories, doesn’t quite measure up to the former or latter, but it’s a fun ride.

Marketed as a cross between the Bourne trilogy and Inception, George Nolfi’s film is actually more of a romantic drama with elements of sci-fi and action. It thrives on the human connection underpinning the story rather than the ‘out there’ sci-fi that forms the backdrop.

When ambitious young congressman David Norris (Matt Damon) suffers a career setback, his life is transformed by a chance meeting with beautiful dancer Elise (Emily Blunt), with whom he becomes instantly smitten. Rather than being allowed to pursue his feelings, however, Norris is advised against it by mysterious members of a hat-wearing organisation who are determined to plot an alternative course for him, only for Norris to try to pursue his own destiny.

Admittedly, how much you enjoy Nolfi’s film depends on how much you’re prepared to go with the sci-fi element of the story, which challenges the notion of fate and could be interpreted as deeply religious. But for those who make the leap of faith there is much to admire, especially the chemistry between Damon and Blunt, which helps to ensure their characters are genuinely worth rooting for. Nolfi’s decision not to take things too seriously also works in the film’s favour, as do the New York locations, which help to provide an eye-catching backdrop to the belated action sequences. Indeed, it’s only really the sci-fi element that begs more questions than it answers and which could have benefited from greater exploration. Adjust your expectations accordingly, though, and this is still a hugely enjoyable slice of hokum.

General release, Fri 4 Mar.

The Adjustment Bureau

  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • US
  • 106 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: George Nolfi
  • Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt

A politician's (Damon) life is transformed by a chance meeting with a dancer (Blunt). Perhaps not the greatest ever film adaptation of a Philip K Dick novel, but thanks to the stars' chemistry and Nolfi's light touch, highly enjoyable.

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