Every Dick has its day…
Sadly 2011 is the year the Dick entered the snowman.
I’m talking of course about The Adjustment Bureau, the new sci-fi/romantic thriller starring Matt Damon (loosely) based on a Philip K. Dick short story. Recently, Hollywood’s interest in Dick has “risen” (really wish his name wasn’t Dick) and along with the upcoming Source Code (Jake Gyllenhaal goes back in time for 8 minutes ughn) we’ll be getting the potentially amazing Ubik courtesy of Michel Gondry at some point. All this probably because of the Dick-esque Inception becoming a big hit.
As unremarkable as the trailer may be, there were some promising things about The Adjustment Bureau which just about made it a film you could get excited about checking out. For one thing, it looked like there’d be enough action to keep one entertained, it stars the usually reliable Matt Damon, contains Inception-style mind-bending twists and cool effects…
The idea of mixing sci-fi and romance was also interesting and, in the past, it’s been done very well (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Vanilla Sky)…but little did I know that what I was about to witness…
…would all come crashing down…
…with the mention…
Yes, my friends, hats have doomed Matt Damon’s latest to Shyamalan-style shame and there’s no turning back.
Of course, there are MANY things wrong with The Adjustment Bureau (I’ll get to the hats in a minute): for one thing its logic is inconsistent to say the least and however you look at it, it makes no sense.
You’ve got a team of “adjusters” (angels with HATS) who are hired by a mysterious “Chairman” who lives in the sky (God) to tweak people’s free will just enough to tip their decisions one way or another in order to follow the Chairman’s “Plan”. They have a book (The Bible, duh) which tells them whenever someone goes off-track. Matt Damon is a politician who, one day, meets Emily Blunt when he wasn’t supposed to, goes off-track and gets pursued by the men in hats etc.
So far: nothing wrong here.
Ok loads is wrong. For one thing, the whole God, angels, free will, Bible stuff is complete rubbish. Hinting at big questions and some sort of intellectual musings but only achieving a Bruce Almighty level of spirituality-for-dummies fast-food brain wank. You CAN do this kind of thing properly (Truman Show, Matrix) but here it’s just clumsy and awkward.
Then, the thing about the adjusters being able to affect your decisions: inconsistent. If that was all they could do…that is freeze everyone, scan their brains (see Cypher for the right way to do this in a film) and change their thought processes: fine. But no. They also have magical powers…
…and magical key hats…
As soon as these guys walk in on that rooftop in slow-motion (perfectly aligned like little “foosball” men) you know things are gonna get pretty Dicky pretty quick. So they’ve got these powers which make them travel around the city through any door they choose (I’ll get back to that), they can also make you spill your coffee, create obstacles…all sorts of stuff. Which isn’t so much affecting free will as it is, um, being mildly annoying magicians? And yet after arresting Damon for going off-track…
…they tell him everything about the Adjustment Bureau and let him go, of course, telling him not to seek out Emily Blunt while they’re at it. Which he does anyway. For 3 years he takes the bus he met her on in the hope of seeing her again, and he does eventually. Now. These guys can teleport anywhere, they can freeze time itself, they have magical powers, they’re ANGELS but they just sit back and let Damon obviously maneuver his way past the so-called “plan”? For 3 whole years!!!
But ok, it’s fine. Perhaps down the line it’ll all make sense.
Then we get this scene where one of the men in hats and Matt Damon are on a boat and the guy goes something like “oh yeah, water is the only thing that corrupts our system: we can talk here”. Not only is this pulled-out-of-his-ass concept never explained but it’s so criminally stupid that it becomes hard to take anything after that for granted. From then on: the film needs to EARN our respect and attention.
What did I JUST saaaaaaay?
GUY: “It’s raining, that’s why we can talk”
It is, however, only about 20 minutes from the end that we finally enterthesnowman © .
The guy who’s like Matt Damon’s guardian angel throughout the film (who fell ASLEEP when he was meant to make him spill his coffee) ends up teaching Matt about how they can just open a door, go through it and end up somewhere completely different. So far, so Inception. But then this happens (the following is a reconstruction of the scene from my tired brain):
GUY: “Turn the doorknob anti-clockwise”
MATT DAMON: “Are they ever locked?”
GUY: “Not if you have one of our HATS!”
*they walk through the door*
Let me make one thing perfectly clear at this point: up until this scene, The Adjustment Bureau is NOT a film about hats. Yes hats feature in the film but they appear as hats.
It is at this exact moment that the, so far taken for granted, hats become much more than mere hats: they become keys.
GUY: “From now on, just assume that anyone with a hat is one of us”
Yes sir. I will…wait, WHAT???
I can’t even put into words how ridiculous this whole hat thing is. It’s like the film suddenly stops and becomes some kind of hat-glorifying propaganda. Like if hats were a totalitarian regime, this is the film they would choose to show on every channel!
I can understand what they were trying to do…kinda. Building some kind of mythology like they did in The Matrix or Inception: a unique world with unique rules. So after computers and dreams we now have…what? Some kind of parallel reality in which God is a Chairman, Angels wear suits from the 40’s, hats are KEYS and Emily Blunt is a professional dancer?
lol Which reminds me, at one point, this guy:
He’s trying to warn Matt Damon that if he stays with the girl he’ll become President but she won’t become a great dancer, instead:
HAT NAZI: “She’ll be teaching dance to six year olds”
*dun dun duuuuuuun*
Like, he says it as if that’s the ultimate shame, the worst thing a person could ever do with their lives, the most humiliating, degrading career anyone could ever choose. First of all: it’s not. Second of all: um, hello, if Damon’s the President of the United States surely he’ll be in a position to give her a more important and meaningful job? Like, oh I don’t know, FIRST LADY???
This film is dumb.
But that’s not even the worst thing, at one point Matt Damon escapes and one of the men in hats actually says:
GUY (panicked): “Sir! He’s got a hat!”
What happened to this movie? Why am I sitting here watching people get worried about hats? Why am I even thinking of hats at a time like this?
It’s like if at the end of Inception we all stopped and focused on Marion Cotillard’s belt…
Here’s a film which fails on so many levels: there’s little to no action with one short chase at the beginning and one right at the end.
Story-wise it’s dumb, it makes no sense, it’s inconsistent. I don’t understand why that story needed to be told and why it had to be told in a way that made me expect Morgan Freeman to waltz in as God randomly after every scene.
Damon and Blunt’s “chemistry” feels forced and is actually quite sickening in places.
I don’t know why Emily Blunt is in movies…
It’s neither funny, touching, entertaining, interesting or clever.
It looks pants.
The effects are pants.
AND THE HATS ARE TREATED LIKE PEOPLE!!!
The final scene?
We’re facing Matt Damon and Emily Blunt as they walk towards us in slo-mo and look at people wearing hats all around them.
By the way, you know who else wears hats?