Adjustment Bureau, The (UK - BD)
Marcus puts on a hat and runs through some doors chasing Matt Damon in HD
Loosely based on a Philip K. Dick short story, The Adjustment Bureau tells the story of David Norris (Matt Damon), an up-coming congressmen who meets Elise (Emily Blunt) in a hotel bathroom and immediately hits it off. Despite a scandal ruining his chance of running his campaign, David is inspired by his brief meeting with Elise and wins the public back with an honest speech, offering up another chance of achieving his goals.
A month later, two men in hats discuss David’s day. One of them instructs that David must spill his coffee on his shirt before 07:05 a.m. but when this schedule is missed, David meets Elise again and things start getting weird, especially when David reaches his office and all of his co-workers are frozen and are being scanned by a group of masked men and some more men in hats.
Without going into much more, because the mystery of what’s going on here is a bit part of the enjoyment of the movie, I have to say that I found The Adjustment Bureau a bit of an oddity. The movie balances a strong sci-fi premise as well as the nature of fate, all while keeping Matt Damon’s character fairly light and in some cases comedic. To add to the equation there’s the relatively good romantic backbone to the story and of course David’s dilemma of what he’s destined to do and what his heart wants. There’s a lot going on and despite liking all of it, it doesn’t feel as if this all goes together as a whole.
Really I can’t work out if this is a great bit of sci-fi which has thrown in some romance to sweeten the deal or if it’s just a romance story that rather than using friends advice or mixed emotions to get in the way of two people getting together, we get men in hats sci-fi stuff to keep the pair apart. Either way, both elements are strong enough to appeal to both sections of the audience but as a whole it just didn't gel for me.
Despite the story not totally winning me over the cast sure did. Matt Damon is as strong as ever and his chemistry with Emily Blunt is utterly believable. All of the men in hats are great with John Slattery keeping up his Mad Men greatness and having Roger very much alive in his character and ‘rogue’ agent Anthony Mackie provides a very likable guy who’s throwing a spanner in the works. Terence Stamp rolls up late in the film and follows the Anthony Hopkins school of acting, in that if he says everything in his own unique way, it’ll pass as adding character as opposed to feeling clunky (as with Hopkins, this just about passes).
This was the second time I’d seen The Adjustment Bureau and once again it felt like two separate movies with the glue binding them together being the element I can’t quite get on board with. Nothing is wrong with the movie, everything moves along nicely and the question of work over love and life not playing out how it's 'supposed' to raises a few good elements but something here prevented me from fully going with it and even on this repeat viewing I'm still stumped as to what this might be... maybe it's the hats.
The transfer here is heavy on the dark colours and the warm lighting, especially in the opening scenes of the film. Because of this it doesn’t feel quite as clean and fresh as we’ve come to expect from modern movies in HD. There’s also quite a high presence of grain, which again makes the transfer feel different to a lot of the glossier Blu-rays out there. In many ways this has a similar look to another Philip K. Dick adaptation, Minority Report but with a bit more colour. So do the darker looks and celebration of grain serve up good results?
For the most part it’s a yes. Once we step out of the warmly lit sets which can sometimes overheat the colours—especially the skin tones and get into the more natural lighting of a cold New York City, which is very, very blue in tone - everything begins to pop. Sure, wider shots can lose a bit of the detail but close ups are full of textures and can feel incredibly sharp.
The only real issue here is the entire transfer feels a little inconsistent. Sometimes the grainer look can make for a striking image, other times it can make it look a little grubby or even a little soft. The overall style of the movie works for the story and certainly makes it feel a little different to the rest of the crowd but despite the transfer's highlights I didn’t come away from it feeling like it was all that special.
The DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 track is fairly straight forward but has its moments. Wider shots are usually full of crowd noise or city sounds and the rear speakers make the track feel full. Dialogue is strong in the front speakers with the score using the entire speaker set up well, creating a strong atmospheric hold on the movie. The few songs that pop up are presented well (though the dancy cover of ‘Fever’ feels like an odd choice). Bass levels are good and strong and add a strong drive to the events in the action scenes but none of this ever feels all that stand out. It’s a solid track that ticks all the boxes it just feels a little conventional.
Accompanying the usual BD-Live we get a commentary with writer/director George Nolfi which gives a good amount of detail on the making of the film but feels a little flat and has quite a few moments of silence towards the end of the movie.
There are six deleted and extended scenes (06:54) all of which aren’t all that long. ‘The Labyrinth of Doors’ has a Google map style selection of New York city that enables you to go to twelve different locations and watch a short behind the scenes video for each part of the city.
‘Leaping Through New York’ (07:36 HD) is an uber short making of that focuses on shooting in New York.
‘Destined to be’ (04:51 HD) is another short look at the romantic element of the film while ‘Becoming Elise’ (07:08 HD) takes a look at Emily Blunt’s dance training for the role.
So the disc has good A/V but not much in the way of features but has enough to be an acceptable effort. The movie itself is a nice bit of sci-fi running alongside a nice bit of romance but for me the two feel forced together as opposed to feeling part of the same whole. I liked The Adjustment Bureau but its oddness still doesn't truly win me over.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 4th July 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Spanish, DTS-HD MAster Audio 5.1 French, Descriptive Video Services
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Extras: Commentary, featurettes, Interactive Map, BD-LIve
Easter Egg: No
Director: George Nolfi
Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Romance, Sci-Fi and Thriller
Length: 105 minutes
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