by Tony Johnson | Arts & Entertainment Editor

The concept of forbidden love has been woven into so many films by Hollywood that it’s on the verge of becoming all too familiar. However, sometimes a movie tries to blend that concept with multiple different genres to create something fresh. The most recent movie attempting to do so is The Adjustment Bureau, which tries to blend sci-fi, mystery, and romance. It does so with mixed results.

The film starts off slow, but we get a closer look at the two star-crossed lovers who carry the forbidden love aspect of the story before they are thrust into a runaway escapade from fate. Congressman David Norris (Matt Damon) is running for senate in the state of New York but is struggling due to his young age and party-boy past. After photos of his partying ways are leaked by the press, he hopes to win the trust of New Yorkers back with the power of a well-written speech. Before delivering it, he strolls into a men’s room and rehearses to himself until he discovers he is not alone. A striking woman (Emily Blunt) exits the stall, and it might as well be love at first sight. They engage in an amusing conversation (wait till you hear her excuse for why she was in the men’s room), flirt endlessly, and eventually embrace each other with a big kiss. The two are interrupted and she leaves David longing for more. Lucky for him, they reunite on a bus the next day and he gets her name, Elise, and her number!

Fate has other plans for them though. Mysterious and creepy men in painfully out dated and tacky-looking fedoras aim to separate them at all costs. David discovers them in his office building as they are manipulating the brain activity of various people who are all frozen in time. He is captured, is told by the head fedora man (Mad Men’s John Slattery) that they are adjusters who make sure everything goes according to plan and that he can’t be with Elise because she interferes with his plan, and is warned that if he exposes the fedora men’s existence they will erase his mind. Worse then that threat, those jerks burn Elise’s number! He is left with only her name and image.

This is where The Adjustment Bureau falls short. Fast forward three years into the future, and David reunites with Elise not by fate but by chance. However, those three years come off as a week on screen, and it seems odd that David and Elise remember each other so suddenly and what happened so clearly after not having any contact with each other in so long.  Nonetheless, they rekindle their extreme attraction towards one another and fall in love again. With that rekindling comes a need for another separation by the fedora men, and fate starts having a war with chance.

The structure of The Adjustment Bureau isn’t all over the place, but just empty. The conflicts of changing and defining the “plan” come off in a broad manner, and those periods of separation don’t feel so long. The first half of the film is better than the second half which is nothing but running. Damon and Blunt have surprisingly fun and sincere chemistry, and the way they play off each other so well save the film from being completely dull. Director and screenwriter George Nolfi’s loose adaptation of Philip K. Dikck’s short story Adjustment Team has its moments, but it’s not at all as much of a sweeping love story as the trailers make it out to be, and the only action you should go in expecting is running.

Though it’s nice to see a film at least trying to be different by blending multiple elements of what normally entertains audiences, the result can turn out to be underwhelming. The best parts of The Adjustment Bureau are truly when it’s just Damon and Blunt talking on screen. It probably could’ve been a better film if romance was the sole focus. It has some style (Emily Blunt’s character Elise is a ballet dancer), some perplexing ideas (fedoras can open doors), and one or two surprises until David’s and Elise’s run is complete, but it’s just not original enough. It’s an escape that may be worth taking just to witness the radiance Damon and Blunt give off together on screen, but don’t go in expecting a fast-paced, sweep-off-your-feet love story that’ll leave you breathless. To enjoy it to its fullest, go in with an erased mind. B-

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