I'm not a particularly paranoid person, but there are times that I can be a bit suspicious about coincidences or "kismet", things that are almost impossibly unlikely to have happened as they did. I'm not alone: sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick made a career out of asking "what's behind the scenes" in a vast body of disturbing and thought-provoking stories, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, Next and Paycheck. Add The Adjustment Bureau to this list, with the story adapted to the big screen by director George Nolfi.
David Norris (Matt Damon) is a young go-getter New York politician who has a chance encounter with the quirky, engaging Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), a ballerina who captures his attention immediately. But strange forces are at work and Norris is assaulted and wakes up in a warehouse, surrounded by mysterious dark-suited men in fedoras. Their leader is Richardson (John Slattery), who explains to Norris that there's a Plan, as mapped in their constantly changing notebooks, and that he cannot be with Elise in The Plan.
The film transforms from a romance into an action film once the watchers show up, and while fate keeps causing Norris to bump into Sellas, it becomes clear that if he's going to try to exercise free will and pursue her, he's going to do so at the risk of the Bureau wiping his memories to avoid dangerous ripples to The Plan. Offsetting the mysterious and sinister watchers is Harry (Anthony Mackie), who sympathizes with Norris and helps him learn what's going on and how to wrest back control of his own fate.
I found The Adjustment Bureau an interesting and thought-provoking thriller, rather slow to get started but very worth watching. Blunt is splendid in her role as a modern dancer confused by all that's going on and I found Harry a particularly sympathetic character, a man torn between his duty to the Bureau and his emotional connection with Norris. In an age where so many science fiction films are about alien invasions or other violent stories, it was a pleasure to have a more cerebral film with snappy dialog and a good cinematic payoff at the end.