The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

I was very conflicted about this film after I watched it. If you have seen it as well, here’s what I thought, and a different idea for the ending.

The Good

Emily Blunt’s and Matt Damon’s chemistry are indeed great, even if rather inexplicable. The idea for the Bureau is brilliant. The doors and fedoras are interesting though gimmicky. The hard choice between personal happiness versus the bigger picture is interesting and could be (but isn’t) the basis to something very dramatic and heart-breaking.

The Bad

Lazy ending is infuriating. It’s so blissful and happy… but makes David’s brother’s and father’s deaths meaningless. The bigger reason for why this particular guy is groomed for a future president is never given and he never even asks. The ease with which the Chairman “changes the plan” to accommodate the protagonists is baffling.

Lack of logic: if the Bureau foresees future events, do they have a timeframe limit? If so, they are hardly godlike but that explains “the height of the Roman empire” and “1914 - 1961” free will periods. If they are everseeing, those periods are rather pointless but then the grand visions of the plan make sense.

Elise is a sex object in the movie. She dances gracefully and wears attractive dresses with bold cleavage. But she never decides anything, never demonstrates much intelligence, independence and proactive behavior. This is again some lazy Hollywood scripting.

Alternative ending

The couple turns the knob left. They enter the Bureau and are immediately captured. They are led to the Chairman. Her name is Lucy.

David breaks down, questions his own wants ("How do I know any of this is real?!” “How do I know it is I who wanted this career?!” “How do I know SHE is real?!” “Do I actually love her?!").

Lucy ensures him his drives are as real as they get. This is why he was chosen. David doesn’t believe her ("What if this is just another mind game right now?!"). He blames Lucy for the death of his father and brother. Lucy admits to it but says there was no other way, then shows them the full extent of the plan and their choices: either David becomes president or there is World War 3 a few decades later. Another dark ages coming after.

Lucy tells David to decide. He is paralyzed and unable to make the choice.

Elise steps in and starts rationally negotiating with Lucy. “If you are the Chairman, why don’t you find another way?! Why don’t you make wars never happen again? Why did you let them happen in the first place?!”

Lucy says: “This world is not my creation. But it’s all we have.”

Elise asks why there is no way in which they can be together while David is president and fulfills the plan that avoids the end of the world. Lucy says that in no possible future can Elise be first lady and have her dancing career. “Is that all?” asks Elise sadly but calmly. Lucy puts her hand on Elise’s head and shows her that ultimately her life will be prosaic, with undertones of disappointment and regret.

Elise nods and says: “Let me think about it.”