Review: The Adjustment Bureau (12A)

Undated Film Still Handout from The Adjustment Bureau. Pictured: (l-centre) John Slattery as Bureau supervisor Richardson and Matt Damon as David Norris. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Universal Pictures UK. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Undated Film Still Handout from The Adjustment Bureau. Pictured: (l-centre) John Slattery as Bureau supervisor Richardson and Matt Damon as David Norris. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Universal Pictures UK. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

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EVERY minute of every hour of every day presents an endless series of alternatives: wake or sleep, laugh or cry, yes or no, forgive or forget, read this review or turn the page.

But what if these aren’t choices at all?

What if everything we do, from something as seemingly random as tripping over a paving stone to fumbling for loose change has been pre-ordained as part of some invisible grand design?

This is the shocking truth that faces the beleaguered hero of The Adjustment Bureau.

Adapted from Philip K Dick’s 1954 short story, writer-director George Nolfi’s fast-paced thriller ponders the ripple effect when one man attempts to defy the future that has been apparently mapped out for him.

Audiences who were bamboozled by the matryoshka doll-like dream-within-a-dream scenario of Inception will thrill to this suspenseful flight of fantasy.

It’s smartly scripted and slickly directed, anchored by another compelling performance from the ever reliable Matt Damon.

He plays ambitious New York politician David Norris, who has overcome tragedy in his personal life to lead the charge for the U.S. Senate and The White House, aided by campaign manager Charlie Traynor (Michael Kelly).

On the eve of an important speech, David meets gifted dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) and the spark of attraction is palpable, culminating in a kiss.

The chance encounter proves a turning point in David’s potentially-glittering future, leading to a startling revelation: he is not the master of his own destiny.

Well-suited gents in hats, who look like they have stepped off the set of Mad Men, are silently working behind the scenes, ensuring that every human being keeps to a path that has been designed for them.

“You don’t have free will. You have the appearance of free will,” reveals lead agent Richardson (John Slattery).

Unfortunately, every once in a while, blind chance causes a blip, and for David, that blip was meeting Elise.

An agent called Harry (Anthony Mackie), who has been assigned to monitor David, feels desperately sorry for the love-struck politician and conspires to help David defy the odds.

The Adjustment Bureau doesn’t drag its heels, cranking up the tension as bureau agents mercilessly apply pressure to David to ensure he bows to their will.

“He has no idea what he’s up against,” smirks Richardson ominously.

Nolfi directs with confidence, seamlessly integrating flashes of digital trickery with the live action as the plot builds to a frenetic chase on foot through the streets of New York.

Screen chemistry between Damon and Blunt smoulders, igniting a tasteful, yet steamy sex scene.

David is prepared to fight to the death for his love – and the bureau agents are only too happy to nudge him to the brink and watch him fall.