The Adjustment Bureau


Mixed or average reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 41
  2. Negative: 2 out of 41

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Mar 3, 2011
    What Dick rendered potent, Nolfi renders preposterous.
  2. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Mar 2, 2011
    There's a startling moment 10 or 15 minutes into The Adjustment Bureau - the only time, really, when the film achieves any level of surprise. The dispiriting dullness of this dreary misfire hasn't had time to settle in and thicken: The movie hasn't yet revealed its utter and thorough ineptitude.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 400 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 55 out of 100
  2. Negative: 11 out of 100
  1. Apr 7, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. In Hirozaku Kore-eda's "Wandafuru Raifu", the recently dead get to make a movie that recounts their happiest moment which will play in an endless loop for all of eternity. Heaven is a short film. But before the person makes it to this celluloidal after life, the subject must sit through pre-production meetings conducted by angels, who look about as ordinary as Harry(Anthony Mackie) does, as well as the other fedora-ed men in "The Adjustment Bureau". The interview process, in which the vignettes are collected for the subsequent shootings, are held at a sort of way station, a decrepit-looking building that resembles a social services institution, the anti-thesis of the usual iconography associated with heaven. Heaven has an indie aesthetic. Angels with harps, the pearly gates, clouds- those overused tropes are too Hollywood. "Wandafuru Raifu", in its eccentric depiction of the hereafter, stood apart from the usual religious genre fare with the truly radical idea that our creator is actually an omnipotent studio head. Heaven is art, seemingly without any ties to organized religion. The same heaven-as-bureaucracy angle is also prevalent in "The Adjustment Bureau", where heaven has an annex on Earth which looks conspicuously like an insurance company building. When David Norris(Matt Damon) discovers that the world is being micro-managed by "case workers"(read: angels), then defies their grand plans for him by his insistence on pursuing Elise(Emily Blunt), a woman he was supposed to meet just once, the men in hats "kick" the case "upstairs". The "chairman"(read: God) send down an archangel-type named Thompson(Terrence Stamp), who informs the senator hopeful that free-will doesn't exist, only the appearance of it. The men who work for the Adjustment Bureau function as architects of predestination. In the Kore-eda film, free will, likewise, turns out to be an illusion, as well, since the movie that the people are collaborating with god on requires a script. A script suggests that everything is written out ahead of time, a collection of life experiences that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. For David, his happiest memory(were he an interviewee in "Wandafuru Raifu") may very well be the moment he says, "I love you," to Elise on the rooftop, kissing his muse as if it was for the last time, so he kisses her hard, while the bureaucrats approach the couple with the intent of "resetting" their mental faculties. Prior to being trapped on the terrace overlooking New York City, the fleeting lovers, in a sense, make their own movie, as they ingress into new locales with each turn of the knob, like editors, surveying the city in the blink of an eye. Their whirlwind jaunt through the urban landscape can be construed as a metaphor for how love has its own velocity when you're with the one you love. Whipping through Yankee Stadium, Times Square, and Ellis Island, time seems to move too fast. Time just slips away. Time passes you by. If David and Elise kiss each other deeply enough, the future amnesiacs hope that perhaps some vestige of their affinity for each other will survive. Maybe they'll find each other, similar to how Joel Barish(Jim Carrey) and Clementine Kruczynski(Kate Winslet) think they're meeting for the first time on that train to Montauk at the outset of Michel Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". Lucky for the politician and the dancer, but unlucky for the fortunes of the film, their undying love never gets tested, because "the chairman" is a Judeo-Christian figure, whereas in the Gondry film, traces of Buddhism can be detected in the way the victimized Lacuna customers are able to recognize each other, which subtly suggests reincarnation, a concept commonly associated with eastern religions. The ending to "The Adjustment Bureau", in what is otherwise an entertaining mish-mash of reasonably sophisticated sci-fi and high romance, is sort of a cheat(or maybe not). God is perfect, right? Hypothetically, when does God ever change his mind? In Carl Reiner's "Oh, God", George Burns, playing our heavenly father, admits to making the pits in avocados too big, but he lets the imperfection remain as is. After forty years of presiding over earth under a working predestination model, now the chairman wants to give free will one more try? C'mon, now. The last time people were entrusted with free will, as previously stated earlier in the film by Thompson, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war. What if God didn't issue this edict? When Harry is summoned to the Chairman's chambers, what if the angel staged a coup, and took over the reigns of power? Maybe the Salon writer is right. Maybe Harry is the devil. Full Review »
  2. Sep 18, 2011
    "The Adjustment Bureau" barely stays alive from its cliched script and its fragile plot. However, it is only the chemistry between Ms. Blunt"The Adjustment Bureau" barely stays alive from its cliched script and its fragile plot. However, it is only the chemistry between Ms. Blunt and Mr. Damon that increases the value of the movie. Full Review »
  3. Mar 20, 2011
    A fun, breezy genre hybrid. Parts sci-fi, romance, and thriller, The Adjustment Bureau has a light tone and does not appear to aspire toA fun, breezy genre hybrid. Parts sci-fi, romance, and thriller, The Adjustment Bureau has a light tone and does not appear to aspire to challenge its more complex sci-fi counterparts. Full Review »