Let me start off my explaining that the movie gets off to a very exciting start. We meet David (Matt Damon), an energetic New Yorker who runs for Senate. While preparing for a campaign speech in the men's bathroom of the Waldorf Hotel, he meets Elise (Emily Blunt). The flirting begins, sparks fly, and it's quite clear that David and Elise are destined to fall in love. **PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD**
After losing the race, David returns to work. Unbeknownest to him, he is being watched by Mitchell, (Anthony Mackie) the man in charge of monitoring his life path. One morning, Mitchell is instructed by a man named Richardson (John Slattery) to ensure that David spills coffee on his shirt at exactly 7:05am, in order to prevent David from hopping on the bus that Elise is on (also unbeknownest to David). But Mitchell falls asleep and is thus unable to trip up David as he walks through the park. In short, David and Elise have another encounter - but this was not supposed to happen, since Mitchell was told to make sure that David didn't get on that bus.
So now the plan is all screwed up and Mitchell is in deep trouble. To correct the mistake, Richardson decides to unveil to David who they are why the Adjustment Bureau exists. He explains to David that he must never see Elise again - that it is not part of his life path - and proceeds to destroy the phone number Elise gave to David on the bus (of course, he didn't store it in his Blackberry, but on a piece of paper).
Flash forward eleven months or so, and David attempts to make contact with Elise. We are now introduced to Thompson a.k.a. The Hammer (Terence Stamp), the man entrusted to end this charade once and for all. He tells David that one day, Elise will be an important dancer and choreographer, and that David will one day be President of the United States - and if they stay together, both of their dreams will be crushed. Thompson then proceeds to sprain Elise's ankle mid-performance with some kind of swish-and-flick motion. While he's with her at the hospital, David comes to the conclusion that he'd be better off leaving Elise so as not to ruin her future.
Flash forward (again?!) three years, when David discovers that Elise is getting married. With the help of Mitchell and his magical fedora, David goes on a daring mission to put a stop to her marriage and defy the orders of Thompson and Richardson. By the end of the movie, after David has rescued Elise and they are face-to-face with Thompson, Mitchell reveals that almighty The Chairman has decided to allow David and Elise to be together since they were able to make their own fate.
I keep reading reviews that compare the plot of "The Adjustment Bureau" to that of "Inception." Let me make one thing very clear: "Inception" was not as tedious or tiring as this. Here's some issues I have with the story, as I read over the preceding 5 paragraphs:
- It is explained in the film that the men who work for the Adjustment Bureau are not human. Why, then, does Mitchell make a HUGE human mistake by falling asleep on the job?
- How exactly do the magical fedoras work? How is possible that once David puts one on, he suddenly has the same door-to-door privileges as Richardson or Mitchell? Wouldn't The Chairman/God ensure that the fedoras could only be utilized by Bureau members?
- Am I supposed to believe that David's love for Elise is suddenly reinvigorated after three years just because he sees the marriage announcement in the paper? Was he too busy campaigning to think of a way to get her back within those 3 years?
- How exactly does surrounding water and rain make it harder for Richardson and Thompson to track David? This concept is introduced, but it is never explained.
- Mitchell later implies to David that he has met The Chairman before, that The Chairman comes in all different forms depending on the individual. This comes up at the tail end of the movie, for what purpose?
- Richardson later reveals that a previous plan allowed for David and Elise to be together, but it was scrapped and re-written. The "chance" encounters, he explains, are remnants of that previous plan. WTF? Why introduce this part of the story so late in the game?
This was movie was full of potential. I even got teary-eyed when I watched the damn trailer! But "The Adjustment Bureau" simply has too many errors in the plot for me to ignore. Go ahead and watch it - you may very well love it and if you do, that's great and I'm happy for you.