Trailer Talk: ‘The Adjustment Bureau’

— by CAM SMITH —

Hollywood’s track record for adapting the works of venerable sci-fi author Philip K. Dick has been truly spotty. While “Blade Runner” and — to a lesser degree — “Total Recall” are influential classic entries in their genre, and “Minority Report” was one of Spielberg’s better films of the past decade, bargain bins are littered with some of the more pathetic attempts at translating the author’s celebrated speculative fiction. Anyone remember “Paycheck,” “Next,” “Screamers” or “Impostor?” Oy vey, how I wish I could forget…

Now, we have a glossy glimpse at the latest attempt, “The Adjustment Bureau,” on-line and ready for your judgment. The flick features Matt Damon as a politician who finds his love affair with a British ballerina (Emily Blunt) threatened by a quartet of mysterious dudes (led by Zod himself, Terence Stamp) in sweet hats. Seems that all human beings have set life-courses and Damon’s character has somehow wandered off track, disrupting the notion of order in the universe and perhaps proving that Free Will is achievable, albeit with potentially deadly consequences.

Although some of my more specific questions regarding this potentially silly premise aren’t answered by the trailer – which instead wisely plays up the more marketable thriller elements – there’s definitely plenty of potential for heady exploration of some involving philosophical concepts and ideas amidst all the running and stirring romantic drama. The film is directed by first-time helmer George Nolfi, whose main background is in screenwriting, having co-penned “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Ocean’s Twelve” and “The Sentinel.” While none of those efforts are particularly confidence-inspiring (“Ultimatum,” a good film, was largely achieved through improv and moments discovered on-set) they are at least not totally terrible. Hopefully this proves to be the passion project that allows him to show the world what he can really do.

It’s also worth noting that Damon has proven to have an uncanny eye for choosing stellar projects, and doing wonderful work in them, and the talented and mighty easy-on-the-eyes Blunt is just waiting for that ideal cinematic venture to launch her up to the next level of stardom.

Although I must confess that this trailer somewhat reminded me of the ad spots for Richard Kelly’s “The Box” — a great premise distorted into a bewilderingly convoluted mess if ever there was one — it also exuded some of the same vibes as Alex Proyas’ sorely underrated “Dark City.” I have a sneaking suspicion that “The Adjustment Bureau” likely won’t fall into the same crippling traps as the former and, if the pieces fall successfully into place, may even prove to be as cool as the latter. And, hey, even if it winds up failing spectacularly, judging from John “The Thin Red Line” Toll’s cinematography, it’ll at least look gorgeous doing so.

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