During one of my all-too-frequent Internet searches for news on all the latest movies on a popular film site, I came across this. What fascinated me, I cannot say with certainty but its top two billed stars did nothing to hinder an attraction and ultimately ensured that I’d be interested in seeing this latest thriller – turns out it kind of messes with our minds, too. Being a fan of the Bourne Identity franchise (those movies rock! And are apparently what I judge all espionage thrillers by) and a devoted fan of Emily Blunt’s work made for some pretty high standards that I expected this movie to live up too.
Making a bid for the U.S. Senate is no small task. One has to maintain a certain image and be ready for anything the press might publish. That is exactly what David Norris (Matt Damon) is attempting to do. Being dubbed the “bad boy” of New York has helped him in the past and despite his many run-ins with bad press, he is overwhelmingly supported by voters. He is an up-and-coming politician who just happens to have a crushing lead on his opponent but his latest stunt is turned into a hindrance and while prepping his concession speech, he has an encounter with a beautiful woman who changes his life. She inspires him to give the speech he needed in order to look promising enough for a secondary run in four years. When they have another chance meeting he finally gets her number and name but before he can attempt to properly court her, he is taken against his will by Richardson (John Slattery) and given a glimpse into his future – by those who dictate other’s paths. David is warned to stay away from Elise, who is accused of being a bad influence on him – or he will not only be deviating from destiny but ruining her dreams.
Three years later, during another chance encounter it puts both he and Elise (Blunt) on the run from Fate – an unknown organization who controls everyone’s future. The agents of this organization, spurred on by Management’s insistence try everything in their power to separate the pair. Eventually David is given a choice; accept what the Bureau is giving him – a predetermined fate with Elise or defy those rules to be with Elise on their own terms…
Aside from some immoral content, there is a deeper skewed meaning behind this movie that will probably offend a lot of Christian audiences. I will be upfront before I get any further into the logistics of the movies’ recurring themes and message: I really wound up liking the movie. It is a departure from normal in my viewing vocabulary, but something is appealing about it. Perhaps it’s the look of the filming (it kind of takes a forties-era approach) or the acting – whatever, it is entertaining. More puzzling or perhaps even troubling for certain audiences will be the flawed emotional elements, and some may feel like the movie is rigged to play mind games on those struggling with free will or preying on viewers who do not have a belief in God.
Many people do feel, assume or claim proof that God (to certain people, it will merely mean a higher being) “pre-plans” our lives: that our choices are not our own, that He sees the future and in order to prevent a fall from grace, He may take a life. God gave us a free will and its definition is exactly as it sounds. With that incredible gift are no earthly repercussions or limitations (the consequences that we are dealt are as a result of individual choosing, not from Him). However what everyone should grasp is that come Judgment Day, we all will be held accountable for the choices we’ve made – choices that God gave us the right to make. In that sense, He does “control” the punishment or reward that each person will be given.
The Adjustment Bureau wants us to conclude that the “higher being” in the movie is a god-like figure; most obvious when David questions an agent if he is an angel, his reply is that they’ve been called that. Unfortunately, the movie is over-blown in being emotionally flawed. Its characters are irresistibly engaging (I absolutely love the sparring witty dialogue between Blunt and Damon – the humor in them instantly put a smile on my face) and if you are able to separate the story as nothing but an alternate universe in which villains try to rule our habits, emotions and dictate who we are able to spend time with, then there is no harm in seeing this. As a Christian, I didn’t find this a “bad” script (looking at it more as a fantasy than reality helped). Fate was impressed with David’s persistence in getting the life he wanted – and defying fate to be with Elise. Romance is the biggest player in the movie, more so than a thriller, but you should keep in mind that part of the movie is considered sci-fi (just without benefit of cool effects!). If you are a cynic, this won’t be to your liking because both Elise and David felt a one-time connection that spanned four years of chance encounters and was reason behind many of their individual choices. In closing, the voiceover reminds us not to forget what a gift free will is – wise advice: let’s remember not to take it for granted.