Matt Damon's struggle to emerge from Box Office Purgatory will likely
continue after his latest exercise in the morose. Not quite as
downbeat as Hereafter — it is, after all, a thriller — BUREAU has
similarities to The Box (with Terence Stamp instead of Frank Langella)
in that it begins in a really intriguing way, then fizzles into quasi-
religious claptrap. Damon can be an actor of such charm, even sparkle,
that it's dispiriting to see him once again as a depressive. His
chemistry with Emily Blunt is the best thing in the movie; they have a
long scene near the beginning, just the two of them talking, that
works so well you get jazzed about whatever's next. Then the men in
hats come with their talk of “God's Plan” and a little later it starts
feeling like Vanilla Sky and by the end goes completely saccharine.
Always good to see John Slattery, though! — Jeff Schultz

Do people have free will, or are their lives already mapped out according to some predetermined plan? That is the philosophical debate at the center of THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU. Matt Damon is David Norris, a Senate candidate and rising political star who seems to be undone by his impulsive behavior. He is about to concede the Senate race he should have won, when he meets Elise (Emily Blunt) in a men's restroom at the Waldorf. They “meet cute” and it is love at first site. But their love will send David off his “plan”, so an adjustment must be made. David meets the Adjusters and is told that he and Elise can never be. But David doesn't give up and the battle between free will and “the plan” is on. Damon and Blunt have wonderful chemistry and that is largely why this Sci-fi love story works. John Slattery brings the same bemused exasperation he displays in MAD MEN to his role as a middle management adjuster. Anthony Mackie's “Harry” questions the wisdom of his Adjuster bosses and helps David on his quest to control his own fate. Mackie is a great young actor (The Hurt Locker and Million Dollar Baby) and he sinks his teeth into this role. Damon has become one of those actors who could read the phone book and captivate an audience Based on a short story by Phillip K. Dick, the film does make the viewer think. Are the choices we make just the appearance of free will? Can we change what the universe has planned for us? The answer in this case would spoil the ending. So, you will have to make the choice to see it yourself. — Alan Yudman

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