The Adjustment Bureau (USA, 2011)

MV5BMTU3ODg3MDAxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjc0MDMzNA@@._V1_SX640_SY720_Directed by: George Nolfi. I rented this movie knowing nothing about it, but the cover image (left) makes it looks like a “sleek action thriller”—meaning an action thriller where the protagonist wears a nice suit instead of a dirty t-shirt, and the stakes, instead of a big explosion in the White House or something dramatic, is more psychological and epistemological. This is in the vein of Inception, not Die Hard.  I dismissed this movie as just another in a long line of false reality-false consciousness movies that were really big in the mid-90’s, and which have now—evidenced by this movie—become standard, safe Hollywood fare for a modern studio. Instead of churning out a Western or a Noir or a Romance, a studio can churn out a big budget altered-reality thriller with lots of special effects, put a big star in it, dudes in suits and hats, a few recognizable faces (hey it’s the guy from Mad Men!) and pretty much sit back and expect a decent return on their investment. The characterization doesn’t keep pace with the plot—which didn’t blow me away anyway, simply because I didn’t care that much about the characters. Fairly broad metaphors for religion/fate/existentialism, taking your life in your own hands, true love, destiny, faith in a higher power, challenging that power, democracy, etc etc etc etc etc etc. The subtext of this thing is exploding with STUFF to work with, and no wonder, once I found out that “Adjustment Team” was a Philip K. Dick short story. The most interesting thing about this movie, then, is what it reveals about Philip K. Dick. Not only did he write stories that would yield some of the most intriguing cinema of its time, he also hit upon a mode of storytelling, in the 1960’s and 70’s, that would become the basis for banal, zero-level, Hollywood commercialism almost half a century later. Good thing? Bad thing? Discuss.

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One response to “The Adjustment Bureau (USA, 2011)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2012 | Offhand Reviews·

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