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    The Adjustment Bureau (Movie Review)

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    Paeter
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    The Adjustment Bureau (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on March 4th 2011, 6:30 pm

    The world is not what it seems. While we least expect it, eerie men in suits, who like to avoid water, freeze time and use strange tools on our heads to change our memories so that we will think what they want us to. Somehow, one man stumbles upon this behavior in action, and from that point begins a quest to uncover the truth and remain with the woman he loves, using as his weapon the very powers these strange men in suits possess.

    Now, before you try to tell Matt Damon where "Shell Beach" is, you should know that “The Adjustment Bureau” is not my dream come true of a sequel to “Dark City”. Not even close. In fact, the trailers seem to imply this is a fantasy/sci-fi thriller, when it’s much more of a fantasy romance, similar in tone to a flick like “The Time Traveler’s Wife”.

    In The Adjustment Bureau, Damon plays a politician who meets a woman randomly. After just minutes of talking for the first time, they are passionately kissing in response to the magnetic power of their fated, unstoppable love for each other. If you can buy this premise and enjoy a bit of fantasy, you’ll find a well made movie here.

    The acting is solid and the mysterious tone is compelling. I was leaning forward for much of the movie for each new nugget about the mysterious "Bureau". There was a lot in this movie that was just plain good film making. Nothing truly memorable about it, but the sum was more than its parts and in general I had a pretty enjoyable experience.

    However, because I had a lot of trouble buying the initial premise of “instant love”, I never emotionally connected with the characters and their story. I didn’t really see why it would be such a terrible thing if they didn’t end up together, yet the tension for much of the movie relies on this as the primary threat. (There is a threat to wipe Damon’s memory if he squeals on the Bureau, but this isn’t played up strongly until near the end.) Without spoiling anything, I can say that the end, while only partially predictable, is not at all interesting or inventive.

    Of greater interest to me were the philosophical foundations of this movie. The story implies that this mysterious “Adjustment Bureau” is the truth behind stories of angels, and that its “chairman” is actually the power behind all concepts of God. Again, this is implied. Not obviously stated. But the world presented here is certainly presented as an alternative to religious ideas about any higher powers working behind the scenes of reality.

    There are a few things that correctly mirror the nature of humans and spiritual reality. But I really wish I would have had a notebook to jot down all the little nuggets in the dialogue that so strongly mirror common ideas in “pop-spiritual” thinking. To try and sum up, the movie suggests that:

    1. There is a powerful (though not omnipotent) being orchestrating events according to a plan.
    2. This plan (and therefore the higher power) is fallible and requires changing to adapt to human choices.
    3. The higher power doesn’t always know what is best for us.
    4. The higher power can be thwarted by “chance”.
    5. Humans were built to be led by their emotions, rather than reason. (And this is implied to be a good thing.)

    There is also a lot to talk about regarding the nature of free will and fate (or God’s sovereignty). This movie unintentionally illustrates the logical problem with emphasizing one over the other. Unless both are somehow operating in complete compatibility, we are either left with a God who is not really all-powerful and all-knowing, or we’re left without real free will. My personal opinion is that fiction will never be able to treat this philosophical wrestling match with satisfaction until multiple space-time dimensions are brought into the equation. (See the book “Beyond The Cosmos” by Hugh Ross for some great thinking on this issue.)

    In the end, “The Adjustment Bureau” is a well made fantasy romance in which the romance itself(and not just the Bureau) is pretty fantastical. But if you can get past that and don’t mind sitting through some illogical pop-philosophy, there’s a good movie to be seen here, with a TON to talk about on the drive home.

    Rated Pg-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image.

    Quality: 8.0/10

    Relevance: 9.0/10

    www.spiritblade.net/paeter
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